Coolio (born Artis Ivey, Jr. on August 1, 1963) is an American rapper best known for the song "Gangsta's Paradise" from the Dangerous Minds soundtrack. Coolio grew up in Compton, California and began performing after graduating high school. After releasing one single, "Watcha Gonna Do", an addiction to crack-cocaine derailed his career. After quitting and becoming a firefighter for a brief period, Coolio returned to performing and recorded his debut album, It Takes a Thief was released in 1994. The second single was "Fantastic Voyage", which became a massive nation-wide hit.
"Gangsta's Paradise", a rap written to the tune of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" from Songs in the Key of Life, was placed on the soundtrack to Dangerous Minds because executives at Tommy Boy Records felt it would not sell. It ended up being a #1 pop hit in the US, and became one of the first rap singles to sell big in the UK. Weird Al Yankovic parodied the song with "Amish Paradise" soon after, leading to discord between Coolio and Tommy Boy; Coolio had not given his permission for the parody (though Yankovic believed that he had), and made no secrets about his discontent. A 1996 album called Gangsta's Paradise became another hit, while Coolio continued touring and started acting. His third album, My Soul, was unsuccessful. Legal problems in Germany and, later, California put Coolio's career on hold. He appeared in a few films and set up his own record label, Crowbar Records, but his next album was delayed until 2002. El Cool Magnifico included a collaboration with Kenny Rogers on an update of his old hit "The Gambler".
Coolio was also the signature left by an infamous hacker--believed to have been a mild-mannered teenager from New Hampshire by the name Dennis Moran--on cwc.gov, rsasecurity.com, and dare.com twice web site defacements.