5 Songs You Didn’t Know Coolio Has Written For Other Artists, TV And Film
In addition to his own catalog of songs spanning his eight albums and numerous collaborations, Coolio has also written a number of songs for film and television, offering “Rolling with My Homies” to the clueless soundtrack in 1995, the same year he released his hip hop opus, the dangerous spirits mega-hit “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which won him the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
In 1995, Coolio – credited with his real name Artis Leon Ivey, Jr. as a songwriter – even showed off his acting skills, appearing in the sitcom Martin Lawrence Martinwith Outkast, Isaac Hayes, Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) and Pam Grier in a 70s contest. He even gave advice to Melissa Joan Hart in an alley on an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witchand later played Irwin a nerdy gift wrapper who becomes a featured rapper on the sitcom Fran Drescher The nanny in 1998.
Among dozens of other on-screen appearances as himself, characters, and even a voice actor—reprising his role as Kwanzaa-bot for the revival of Futurama weeks before his death on September 28, 2022 at the age of 59 – Coolio also aired his lyrics on TV and in movies, writing the theme song for the Nickelodeon comedy buddy Kenan and Kel in the mid-90s and even appearing in the show’s opening segment.
Here are five songs the rapper has written for (and with) other artists, as well as TV and film.
1. “Ride with my friends” clueless Soundtrack (1995)
Written by Coolio
Coolio already had a hip-hop party song ready to go when he was asked to contribute a song to the teen comedy clueless in 1995. “Rolling with My Homies” actually featured the original lyrics from another “Fantastic Voyage” anthem.
“That’s what I was going to release for ‘Fantastic Voyage’ at first, but a guy who worked for Tommy Boy [Records] heard the [original version of] ‘Fantastic Voyage’ and said to me, ‘If you change your lyrics a bit and make them more universal, I think this song could do some good’. said Coolio in a 2013 interview. “So I took the original lyrics out and rewrote the whole song. And the rest is history.”
In the film, the song plays Cher, played by Alicia Silverstone, and her friends are at a party in the valley. When her socially awkward friend Tai, played by the late Brittany Murphy, is knocked unconscious by a flying hoof while dancing to the song Coolio, she ends up waking up to her love interest Elton (Jeremy Sisto) and singing ride with the buddies before returning to the dance floor.
Saturday morning take the train for a ride
The sun is up, I got my homies by my side
I roll down the street with my sixteen speakers
On the beach, daddy dives
I hang a light on the right, ready to have some fun
Then I bust left for the 121
Pull it to the park and lay it on the grass
I’m backing up the ride, so I can see some butt
2. “Oh, that’s it”, Kenan and Kel Theme song (1996)
Written by Coolio
Coolio created the theme song for the 1990s Nickelodeon teen sitcom Kenan and Kelfeaturing a younger Saturday Night Live cast members Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell – both also starred in the 1997 comedy Good burger. Co-produced with Victor Concepcion and written and performed by Coolio, the rapper even appears singing the song with Thompson and Mitchell in the show’s opening segment, which aired from 1996 to 2000.
Everybody out there go run and say
Your friends and girlfriends it’s time for Kenan and Kel
To make you laugh in the afternoon
So don’t touch that dial or leave the room
‘Cause they’re always into something
Or face it and you don’t wanna miss it
It’s like a double K, two to get greatness
Kenan and Kel, or should I say Kel and Kenan
And you have to watch Kenan
Because Kenan is plotting
With a plan or land
To get to the top
Mitchell and Thompson also starred in the Saturday Nickelodeon sketch comedy All thatwhich included Coolio in a Good burger sketch.
3. “(I’m in love with) Mary Jane,” half cooked Soundtrack (1998)
Written by Coolio, John King, Mike Simpson, Rick James
Co-written by and starring comedian Dave Chappelle (Thurgood), the 1998 stoner comedy Half Baked follows the story of four friends who still live (and smoke weed) together. When Kenny, played by Harland Williams, is on the run, he accidentally kills a diabetic NYPD horse by feeding it junk food and is placed in the slammer. His friends do the only logical thing they can to break his million dollar bail: sell medical marijuana.
Coolio’s “(I’m in Love With) Mary Jane” references marijuana (“mary jane”) and Thurgood’s love interest in the film…a girl named Mary Jane.
She is my inspiration
My part-time job
The catalyst and my consumption
In my quest for education
No one could ever take his place and
No assimilation, so save yourself false accusations
I do not accept any imitations
So that’s the situation without hesitation
I continue my demo
For the congregation
To break it down for all of you, plain and simple
I got a love for a girl named Mary Jane
4. “No Exit”, Blondie, with Coolio (1999)
Written by Coolio, Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, Jimmy Destri, Roxy Ashby
Drawing inspiration from their 1980 Autoamerican rap song, “Rapture”, when Blondie was working on their seventh album, No Exit, the band brought in Coolio, who added some rhymes to the title track. Partly a darker procession, opening with an interpolation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” with Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” mixed in, the harsher rock song is cut with raps from Deborah Harry, who also sings through backing vocals, and input from Coolio:
Standing on the edge of the ledge, waiting for me to fall, but then I got a call.
He said “Hold on, hold on mate!
You must stumble!
You can’t put that simpie and moan in your pippin!
You better stand up straight, fool, you were born to play ball.
I took a small fall and now you want to stop everything!
You chased dreams like a hunting dog.
Take a seat in front.
Put your hand on the pump.
And it’s right within your reach, man.
I know they’re laughing, but you’ll laugh later because the time will get longer.
You are a player, and when I say player, I mean player because your father and your uncle were players.
5. “Escape Wagon”, Versatile, with Coolio (2019)
Written by Casper Walsh and Alex Sheehan (Eskimo Supreme) of Coolio and Versatile
Coolio contributed a few words to Irish duo Versatile’s 2019 single ‘Escape Wagon’. their single, including the outro, where he compares his hometown of Compton, California to Ringsend, a southern suburb of Dublin, Ireland, calling it the “Compton of Europe”.
Ringsend and Compton
You always knew it was gonna happen
Ringsend, the Compton of Europe
The rapper was also featured on the track “Coolio Interlude,” from the duo’s 2021 album, Versatile fuck.
(Photo by JM Enternational/Getty Images)