It's been quite the journey for Coolio, from the streets of Compton to Bogart's Place in Apple Valley. It hasn't always been a pleasant one. After failing at the whole thug-life thing, he spent the early days of his music career playing around Los Angeles and not finding much success. Then he became a crack addict. After getting clean, he mounted a return to music, this time with better results. His 1994 debut album, It Takes a Thief, went platinum and cracked the top ten. A bit later that year, he recorded "Gangster's Paradise." The song turned him into a superstar, somebody with street cred and also mainstream appeal. The spillover of that success had Coolio infiltrating every segment of pop culture: He sang the theme song to Nickelodeon hit show Kenan and Kel, he was a frequent guest on Hollywood Squares, and he appeared in the superhero flop Batman & Robin. But the last 10 years haven't seen much widespread success for Coolio. Although he held out longer than other once-hugely popular mid-'90s contemporaries such as the Gin Blossoms and Hootie and the Blowfish, he's finally adding "nostalgia act" to his resume. He's not the hell-raising star he once was, but he's still at least kind of cool.
Fri., Aug. 8, 9 p.m., 2008