When are fans gonna hear sumpin' new from Coolio?
Soon, according to the rapper, who made a surprise appearance at the ESPN Action Sports and Music Awards to explain where he's been the past few years: "I've been in the lab, man."
His fourth album, Coolio2002.com, is scheduled for a June release and will be "hot," Coolio promised. "I ended up doing so many songs that I had a lot of stuff to pick from. I've basically got an album full of singles."
The disc will include an updated version of "The Gambler" called "The Hustler" that Coolio recorded in 1998 with Kenny Rogers. The unlikely pair also shot a video that Coolio said may finally see the light of day (see "Coolio Films Two Videos In L.A.").
Coolio has also collaborated with Cypress Hill's B-Real and producers the Trackmasters (Jay-Z, Ludacris) and plans to record a song with Snoop Dogg. "I also got a four-piece band that I rock with that plays behind me," he said. "My whole thing is a little bit different now. My flows are polished."
Along with Coolio2002.com, the rapper has formed a collective called the Replacements.
"It's a five-man group, kind of like, for lack of a better description, let's just say a West Coast Wu-Tang, but different in sound and structure," Coolio explained. "One of them is my nephew, the other cat was a freestyle champion here at a club called Elements for about a year, nobody could take him down. He finally retired, undefeated. And another cat by the name Dre Infinite, he actually used to be a rapper, probably a few less years than me. Mobillini is probably the newest cat. He's got a Southern drawl. He's actually from Baton Rouge."
Outside of rapping (and appearing on "The Weakest Link"), Coolio has been acting. He's appeared mostly in low-budget movies, though he just shot scenes for "Daredevil," an action movie starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner based on the popular Marvel comic book series.
"It's something that came kind of naturally, so it was an easy transition," Coolio said. "Acting is all about timing. I mean, who has better timing than the MCs?"