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Coolio in Concert

For more than three decades, Compton-born MC Coolio has been a standard-bearer of West Coast hip-hop — and he's shown that versatility is the name of the game as well. Coolio's 1994 single "Fantastic Voyage" blended sinewy G-funk with frank, wordplay-rich lyrics about poverty's toll on urban America, and its wild success (reaching No. 3 on the Hot 100) made him one of hip-hop's leading mid-'90s voices. A year later, Coolio flew even higher after releasing the Stevie Wonder-sampling, world-weary "Gangsta's Paradise"; as part of the soundtrack to the inner-city high school drama ‘Dangerous Minds,' it topped the Hot 100 and led Billboard's year-end singles chart for 1995, won the 1995 Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance, and scored the Best Rap Video award at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. The 1995 album of that name contained two other Top 40 hits, the groove-heavy party jam "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" (which reached No. 5 on the Hot 100) and the Kool & the Gang-sampling ode to safe sex "Too Hot." A year later, he recorded a theme song for Nickelodeon's sketch-comedy series ‘Kenan & Kel,' and in 1997 his mournful single "C U When U Get There" captured the elegiac spirit that had overtaken hip-hop in the wake of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.'s deaths.

In the years that followed, Coolio released music independently, touring constantly with the likes of Insane Clown Posse and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. He also built off the notoriety he'd achieved as a mid-'90s MTV staple and went Hollywood, regularly guesting on the game show ‘Hollywood Squares,' playing a demon on the witchy teen drama ‘Charmed,' and cameoing as himself in a variety of films and TV series ranging from the surrealistic cartoon ‘Squidbillies' to the horror comedy ‘Leprechaun in the Hood.' He also headlined his own reality series, ‘Coolio's Rules,' in 2008, and that show led to his other career as a celebrity chef: He's the star of ‘Cookin' With Coolio,' an online ‘Coolio's Rules' spinoff that focuses on his skills making "Spinach Even Kids Will Eat," "Swashbucklin' Shrimp," and other stick-to-your-ribs dishes. (It also spawned a cookbook of the same name.) Coolio's still cooking on the road, playing his hits and new tracks for audiences all over the globe.