Coolio comes to Breck
BRECKENRIDGE – In the 1990s, Coolio’s good-time party anthems led to a new kind of slang: Teenage girls started saying “Coolio” to replace the shorter version of 1950s term.Coolio broke into the pop scene with gritty, street-level language and topics. But he didn’t completely submit to grit. He shared the West Coast scene’s love of laid-back, ’70s funk, which he regularly injected into his music, along with a goofy persona he fleshed out in his videos.His friendly and playful attitude made hip-hop more accessible to younger and less hardened rap lovers.Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in 1963 in South Central Los Angeles, he was a small, asthmatic bookworm. He started rapping in high school and entered contests as a college student. His professional name emerged at one of the contests, where someone called him “Coolio Iglesias.” After becoming a regular on L.A. rap radio station KDAY, he cut “Watcha Gonna Do.”He landed a deal with Tommy Boy after joining a collective dubbed the 40 Thevz. His debut album, “It Takes a Thief,” took off in 1994 when the single “Fantastic Voyage” hit No. 3 on the pop charts. The album eventually went platinum, establishing Coolio as a figure of hip-hop.He took a U-turn when he teamed up with gospel-trained singer L.V. to release “Gangsta’s Paradise,” a social statement about ghetto life. The music was dark and haunting, unlike his other releases. Tommy Boy discouraged him from putting the single on an album, instead preferring to place it on the soundtrack to “Dangerous Minds” (starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a tough, inner-city teacher).”Gangsta’s Paradise” went No. 1 in the U.S. and U.K. It was the first time “street rap” topped the charts and stayed there. In 1996, Coolio won a Grammy for the best rap solo performance.The stir caused Weird Al Yankovic to record the parody “Amish Paradise,” much to Coolio’s dismay.In the late 1990s, he lost his edge as younger audiences turned their attention to the likes of Puff Daddy.But since the new millennium, he has released two albums, “Fantastic Voyage: Greatest Hits” in July, 2001, and “El Cool. Magnifico” in October, 2002.He comes to Sherpa & Yeti’s in Breckenridge tonight.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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