Selected by Dan Grunebaum


With Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre back on top of the charts again, the burden falls on fellow gangsta rapper Coolio to prove he' still got the stuff. In July, Tokyo hip hop fans will get a chance to decide for themselves when the dreadlocked b-boy brings his new album to Akasaka Blitz on July 5 and 6.

A reformed crack addict and former jailbird, Coolio (born Artis Ivey, Jr) didn't get started on his hip hop career until he was pushing 30, practically an old man in a field where everyone else was in their early 20s. Joining the 40 Thevz group of producers, rappers and break dancers in the mid-'90s, he eventually signed with Tommy Boy Records for his debut It Takes A Thief.

With its self-deprecation and goofy wit, the album was a breath of fresh air at a time when gangsta rap was beginning to take itself just a bit too seriously. On the strengths of Coolio's personable character, gravity-defying dreadlocks and, most of all, the effortlessly danceable grooves of hits such as "I Remember" and "Fantastic Voyage," It Takes A Thief went platinum.

Now a certified star, Coolio went on to record the big budget follow-up, Gangsta's Paradise, which was released in 1995. The title track featured a sample from Stevie Wonder's song "Pastime Paradise," a safe selection that practically guaranteed it massive airplay. With its sing-along party grooves featuring a gospel choir and surprisingly thoughtful observations on ghetto life, the song went on to become the number one single of 1995 not only in the US, but in the UK as well, an unlikely feat for a rap song. It also won Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1996.

My Soul, Coolio's third release, confirmed his place as one of hip hop's leading artists. He subsequently established his own Crowbar label and also embarked on an acting career. The just-released, meanwhile, features an unusual cameo by country singer Kenny Rogers in a hip hop transformation of Rogers' classic number "The Gambler."

Coolio plays Akasaka Blitz on July 5-6. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana