You Probably Forgot About Coolio's Original Cookbook

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As the news of Grammy Award-winning rapper Coolio's unexpected death Wednesday makes headlines, celebrity pundits and music industry insiders are reminiscing about his epic career and chart-topping hits, including "Fantastic Voyage" and "Gangsta's Paradise" (via CNN), but only real fans know Coolio was also a whiz in the kitchen.

Born Artis Leon Ivey, Jr. in 1963, Coolio was raised by his mother in Compton. A quiet kid, he turned to gang life, joining the Baby Crips at age 11(via Gem Tracks), and got involved with drugs before becoming a volunteer firefighter, per The New York Times, a move he later said was an effort to getting clean (CNN). He also began dabbling in local hip-hop. While attending Compton Community College, he competed in contests as "Coolio Iglesias" (via Gem Tracks), developing a loyal following. In 1987, he released two singles — "Whatcha Gonna Do?" and "What Makes You Dance?" according to Pitchfork.

Coolio's rap career took him around the world. His top hit, "Gangster Paradise," reached No. 1 on pop charts in 16 countries, including the United States, and, in 1995, became the first-ever rap song to place No. 1 on Billboard's year-end Hot 100 hit list (via Rolling Stone). According to The New York Times, Coolio's career-long U.S. album sales total 4.8 million.

But he was a man of many interests. Outside of music, he loved cooking and published his own hilariously candid recipe book, "Cookin' with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price."

The ghetto Martha Stewart

If Snoop Dogg hadn't met Martha Stewart when he was a guest on her show in 2008, Coolio might have stepped up to the plate. The rapper who died unexpectedly Wednesday had already made a name for himself with major hits and awards when he decided to write a cookbook. Published in 2009, "Cookin' with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price" currently holds 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 728 reviews posted on Amazon. Although it's a real cookbook with real recipes (Coolio began cooking at age 10, according to Amazon), the author definitely put his mark on the collection, creating new-to-us fusions like Blasian (Black Asian) and Ghettalian (ghetto Italian) dishes.

According to Cook Backstage, the rapper-turned-cookbook-author claimed the title Ghetto Martha Stewart (Who knows? It could have been a thing.) as he outlined the steps to recipes he called ghetto gourmet. (He also dubbed himself King of the Kitchen Pimps for showcasing recipes like Finger-Lickin-Rib-Stickin-Fall-Off-the-Bone-and-into-Your-Mouth Chicken and Banana Ba-ba-ba-bread.) A 2009 review in The Village Voice observed, "the book won't just introduce you to some delicious, budget-friendly recipes straight out of Compton, it'll change the way you think, and perhaps more importantly, talk about cooking."

According to The New York Times, Coolio is survived by his ex-wife and their four children.