Coolio in Dubai

Cookbooks, the golden era of hip hop and more surprising revelations

As he returns to the UAE for a live performance at Barasti Beach, we unearth a few little-known facts about 47-year-old Artis Leon Ivey Jr, better known as Coolio. Thought you knew the crazy-haired, crazy-talking American rapper? Think again.

Coolio has known Dubai longer than many of its current residents
Coolio was way ahead of the curve and his fellow musicians when it came to visiting Dubai for a concert, making his first appearance in the city back in 1997 (closely followed by Rod Stewart), two years after the release of his best known track ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’.

He collects snow globes
Unlikely though it may seem, Coolio is rumoured to be an ardent collector of snow globes. The same source claims his stage name is the result of a joke between his friends, who compared him with Spanish singer Julio Iglesias.

He has his own cookbook entitled Cookin’ With Coolio
Reinventing himself as the Ghetto Gourmet back in 2009, Coolio launched his web show and cookbook with recipes for everything from Cold Shrimpin’ to Chicken Lettuce Blunts, describing his style as Ghetto fusion, with examples such as Ghetallian (urban and Italian) and Blasian (African-American and Asian).

He may be a star of the ’90s, but don’t call him old school
Speaking to Minneapolis paper The Minnesota Daily, Coolio declared: ‘Every once in a while, I have people say, “Yeah, yeah, I love them old school [hip hop artists]” I’m not old school, bro. The old school is Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Sugarhill Gang – that’s old school. I’m from the golden era, bro.’

Before he launched his career as a rapper, Coolio worked some less-than-glamorous day jobs
As a youngster, Coolio got caught up in a variety of both petty and serious crime, but he cleaned up his act to undertake stints as a fireman in the forests of northern California and later as a security guard at Los Angeles International airport, before hitting the big-time as a rapper.

At the time, he was oblivious to the fact his then producers had given the green light for a parody of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’
Tommy Boy Records, with whom Coolio parted ways back in 1997, gave Weird Al Yankovich permission to record his 1996 parody of the hit song, entitled ‘Amish Paradise’, which appeared on the latter’s Bad Hair Day album. The rapper was said to have been livid when the song and subsequent video were released.

According to his biography on talent agency WME’s website, Coolio ‘successfully made the transition from performer to actor’
Though you may not agree so heartily if you take a closer look at his acting jobs. Perhaps most memorably, the rapper appeared in Batman & Robin as the banker, though has also starred in numerous direct-to-video and TV movies, including Leprechaun in the Hood, In Pursuit and Pterodactyl.

Coolio will perform live at Barasti Beach on March 25.

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