Entertainment

Coolio cooked up a storm on the air and screen as he took hip hop to the world

His passion for food saw him become a chef while continuing to make music and appear on the small screen.

The rapper and TV personality Coolio has died in the US at the age of 59.

The man born Artis Leon Ivey Jr came to the world’s attention with his 1995 hit Gangsta’s Paradise, which became one of the most successful rap songs of all time after he recorded it for the film Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

But he was also in demand on the small screen, with a third-place finish in the UK Celebrity Big Brother in 2009 followed a year later by an appearance in the Ultimate edition of the programme.

Coolio arrives to enter the Celebrity Big Brother
Coolio’s profile rose in the UK when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother (Yui Mok/PA)

His passion for food saw him become a chef who appeared in web-based cooking instructional shows Coolio’s Rules and Cookin’ with Coolio, as well as a celebrity contestant on the first season of Rachael vs Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.

After being born in the steel-making city of Monessen, south-western Pennsylvania, the young man moved to Compton, Los Angeles where he began developing his skills by entering rap contests.

He recorded the singles Watcha Gonna Do and You’re Gonna Miss Me in the late 1980s, before joining group WC and the Maad Circle in 1991.

He had his breakout moment as a solo artist three years later with the single Fantastic Voyage, from his individual debut album It Takes a Thief, which was released by Tommy Boy Records.

Coolio after making half time draw during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow
The rapper, shown at Celtic Park, also appeared on the small screen on The Bill and The Nanny (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The LP reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 200 chart and raised his profile so much that Hollywood came calling.

Gangsta’s Paradise, featuring singer LV, snatched top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for three weeks.

An album with the same title was released later in 1995 and was soon certified twice platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, with the release also containing hit singles 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New) and Too Hot.

Coolio collaborated the next year on the soundtrack to the Michael Jordan-starring family film Space Jam, teaming up with Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Cyprus Hill’s B-Real and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan for the song Hit ’em High.

He achieved a special place in many television viewers’ hearts with the memorable theme song – titled Aw Here It Goes – to the children’s show Kenan and Kel, along with turns on The Nanny and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

He also appeared in an episode of The Bill, but it was his turn on the sixth series of UK Celebrity Big Brother that brought him into large numbers of UK viewers’ homes in 2009.

He finished third and along with winner Ulrika Jonsson went on to join the cast of Ultimate Big Brother the following year, the last series of the show to air on Channel 4.

Coolio recorded eight studio albums finishing with 2009’s From the Bottom 2 the Top, and kept working in TV including appearances as himself in Adult Swim’s Black Jesus in 2014 and last year in the presidential puppet-themed show Let’s Be Real.

He was not without legal incidents, being convicted of being an accessory to robbery and causing bodily injury in Germany in 1998.

He was also convicted for having a loaded firearm inside a bookbag at Los Angeles International Airport in 2016 then denied entry to Singapore at Changi International Airport the next year for a non-disclosed reason.

He had six children and was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 until 2000.