Coolio: Life, Music, and Success

Ryan Stoy

When you hear the name Coolio, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It would probably be the massive hit, Gangster’s Paradise, however the story of Coolio isn’t as well known as this hit. 


Coolio was born on August 1st 1963 in Monssen, Pennsylvania but he soon moved to Compton, which is where he grew up. During his childhood, he joined the Baby Crips gang, which caused him to create a violent persona. This led his academics to suffer and eventually led to him having jail time. Despite this, after high school he attended Compton Community College. When he was finished with college, he worked as security at the Los Angeles International Airport. Coolio recorded his first record, “Whatcha Gonna Do?” in 1987. Later in 1991 he joined the group, WC and the Maad Circle, being credited as a co-contributor for their first album, Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed. In 1994, he would begin to further his solo career with his debut solo album, It Takes a Thief. After this album release Coolio shot into stardom, releasing Gangster’s Paradise a year later. This would only further his status as a star, and cement his position in the legends of music. 


Coolio, for those who experienced him and his art, truly defined the 90’s. The mark he left on this era of music is too large to ignore. His music really allowed for the rap and hip-hop genres to grow into what we see now. His story of struggle to success shows us that hard work and determination to a goal can lead to fruitful results. He even found ways to share his success with others. Having struggled with asthma in his earlier life, he understood the struggle and was a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. What Coolio left behind will never be forgotten, and will always be relevant to music in the future.