Hit-making rapper Coolio pleaded not guilty Wednesday (Oct. 21) in Torrance, Calif., to three charges, all in connection with his arrest last month for storing a semiautomatic weapon in his sport-utility truck and possession of marijuana.
He also pleaded not guilty to the traffic infraction that led to his arrest.
The charges stem from the hip-hopper's Sept. 15 arrest, when a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy allegedly spotted Coolio driving his vehicle on the wrong side of the road. After stopping the rapper, the officer found marijuana and a semiautomatic pistol in his possession, police said.
Coolio faces misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, being an unlicensed driver and possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in a vehicle, according to South Bay Court Clerk Kimberly Jones, who added that he also faces an infraction of driving on the wrong side of the road.
Coolio (born Artis Leon Ivey), 35, could face up to a year in county jail and a fine for vehicle-code violations, if convicted. The case will be heard Nov. 20.
Prior to his court date Wednesday, Coolio predicted that his run-in with the law would have little impact on his career.
"I'm not bitter about it ... This is not going to hurt me a whole lot as far as my career," he said. "It's not going to hurt me too much personally; I might have to spend a little money to get an attorney, but I'm not going to jail.
"I'm not going to do any time. If I get a fine, it's not going to be more than like $500 or $1,000."
With his 1994 debut LP, Like a Thief, Coolio immediately established himself as a popular artist. The album featured such hits as "Fantastic Voyage" (RealAudio excerpt).
The rapper further solidified his reputation with his 1995 triple-platinum follow-up, Gangsta's Paradise, which included "1-2-3-4 (Sumpin' New)" (RealAudio excerpt) and the title track.
His fourth LP could be released as early as February. The as-yet-untitled album features the good-times single "The Bump."
"It's basically a fun song, a party song," Coolio said. "What I'm talking about is having really loud music in your car, having the bumps. It's just straight fun, like 'Fantastic Voyage' mixed with 'County Line,' mixed with '1-2-3-4 (Sumpin' New).' It's like all that mixed together."
Calls to prosecuting attorney Lydia Bodin were not returned at press time. Coolio's management offered no comment on the plea.
The rapper's recent run-in with the law is his second in the past 12 months. A November altercation in a Stuttgart, Germany, clothing store led to Coolio being charged with assault and abetting theft. Coolio allegedly elbowed a store manager in the stomach when she tried to prevent the rapper and six of his bandmembers from leaving the store, police said.
"I didn't steal anything. I performed a service for someone. They informed me they didn't have the money to pay my fee and I suggested that we do an exchange: my services for clothing. They agreed," Coolio said recently during an online chat with www.mylaunch.com.
"When it came time to close the deal, they reneged. I could've handled the situation differently, but we all became emotional. And you know when you become emotional, sometimes you do things without thinking."