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Style & Culture

Trip Down Memory Lane: Former rap star Coolio gets things cooking

“Aww, Here It Goes” is a title that every child of the late ’90s perked up to while staring blankly at their home TV set. Although it is the theme song for the hit TV show Kenan & Kel, it was performed by none other than chef and rapper extraordinaire Coolio. The name may be the most fitting of all rap monikers, but Coolio was born by the name Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in 1963 in Compton, Calif.

Coolio began his epic rap journey in 1987, when he recorded singles “Watcha Gonna Do” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” but they were not very successful. In 1991, Coolio caught a break when he joined WC and the Maad Circle. The group’s first album, titled “Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed,” featured Coolio on a few songs. A mere three years later, Coolio signed to Tommy Boy Records.

In 1994, Coolio released his debut solo record, “It Takes a Thief.” The album featured the hit single “Fantastic Voyage,” which is famous for the chorus lyric, “Slide, slide, slippity slide.” It managed to reach No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The album featured two other singles and was eventually certified platinum.

Riding on the success of his first album, Coolio went to work on his next album, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was titled after the hit single by the same name. The song, which features singer L.V., was originally written for the movie “Dangerous Minds.” It would grow to be immensely popular and would shoot Coolio into hip-hop greatness. The album was released in 1995 and was certified platinum twice. In addition to the title track, the album also featured the popular single “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New).”

After the album’s release, Coolio was the featured guest for the song “In a Twist,” from WC and the Maad Circle’s sophomore album. He also contributed on the collaborative song “Hit ‘em High,” featuring fellow hip-hop heavyweights B-Real of Cypress Hill, Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes, for the soundtrack for Michael Jordan’s popular 1996 film, “Space Jam.”

All of the guest work did not slow down the progress of his third studio album, “My Soul,” released in 1997. The album featured only one big song, which is quite possibly the most soulful song he ever wrote, titled “C U When U Get There.” The opening lyrics set the tone for the song: “Now I’ve seen places and faces / and things you ain’t never thought about thinkin’.” The song propelled the album to platinum status. The success of the song wasn’t enough to bring the album the same success as its predecessor.

After the release of “My Soul,” Coolio began his spiral downward from hip-hop fame. Despite being dropped from Tommy Boy, he continued to release albums through different record labels. To date, Coolio has released a total of seven studio albums, with the most recent being 2009’s “From the Bottom 2 the Top.”

Since his decline in the music industry, Coolio has turned to reality TV with shows like ABC’s “Wife Swap” and Food Network’s “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.” Coolio actually released his own cookbook, dubbed “Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price,” that was published in 2009. He even hosted a cooking show on YouTube that is well worth a watch.