Coolio warming up to life in Las Vegas

Coolio has Vegas news for you: "I'm now officially a local celebrity."

You know Coolio. He sang-rapped "Gangster's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage." Chris Rock joked about him in "There's No Sex in the Champagne Room." And for the past two years, Coolio starred in Britain's "Big Brother."

He says he moved here a year and four months ago for the same reason Santana bought a home here: Nevada's low taxes.

"California taxes started going up all over the place. And Arnold (Schwarzenegger) came in and pretty much destroyed my state. We got Arnold-lectrified," Coolio says.

There is another main draw for Coolio. Los Angeles traffic was stressing him out "to the point where I started losing my hair."

"Had I moved to Vegas 10 years ago, I'd probably still have a head full of hair!"

Incidentally, Vegas isn't a gangster's paradise.

"Crips and Bloods hang out in Vegas," he says. "You have some gang violence in Vegas, but it's nowhere near the magnitude of Los Angeles."

As you can see, Coolio is going to be a character of a Las Vegan. Although, he calls locals "Vegas-ons" since "it sounds a little more masculine."

Coolio's Vegas tie-in is a nephew he's been visiting for years.

"Vegas has more culture than Los Angeles. You've got the Old Vegas mentality. Then you've got Downtown Vegas. Then you've got the Strip. Then you've got the suburbanites.

"You also have a subculture in Vegas. Let's see, how I want to term this: The degenerates, the drug addicts, the pimps, the prostitutes, the whores, the all-around bad (expletives), like the jackers, and the robbers, and the bees."

(I think he says "bees." I have no idea.)

Coolio has "experienced" all of our demographics, he says.

"I've talked to homeless people in Vegas, and I've talked to people with more money than God. And we all get along the same," he says. "Overall, people here are nice."

Wait, is Coolio telling us he just talks to anyone who approaches him?

"I'm pretty accessible," he says. "If you want me to give you my correct term: I am an international, hip-hop superstar, as well as an icon. So everybody comes to talk to me."

Coolio (Artis Leon Ivey Jr.), 47, reportedly did crack as a young guy in Compton, and he was put on probation in 2009 for a possession plea.

So I ask: How are you dealing with vices?

"I look at life with a very realistic point of view. Everybody isn't gonna be a doctor, or a lawyer, a successful businessman, or a casino manager.

"Somebody's gotta drive the (expletive) bus. Somebody's gotta work at the convenience store. Somebody's gotta be on drugs -- so that there can be people who help people get off drugs.

"It takes all of us to make up this mad, crazy-ass world that we live in," he says.

But he doesn't gamble more than $100 every few weeks. And he doesn't pay for prostitutes.

Why, pray tell, would I ask him whether he goes to prostitutes? Because he opens up that subject by vociferously saying the city needs to legalize and regulate prostitution. That would boost the economy and tax rolls and protect women and "tricks" from STDs, he says.

"Vegas has to get its tolerance back," he says.

"Some guys come here, and they want to get naked," he says, "and they want to do drugs, and act a fool, and get drunk, and go home with a heart murmur.

"Some women want to come here, and they want to have a different boy toy every night.

"Vegas is starting to have too many rules," he says. "In order for Vegas to get its swag back, they're gonna have to loosen up."

Coolio, who lives in a Southwest neighborhood, says Vegas isn't nearly as wild as outsiders think.

"New Orleans is way crazier than Vegas. And so is L.A.," he says.

Don't get Coolio wrong. He's partied here.

"In fact, I'm gonna make up a word right now. I've had some magnificent, 'terrific-ocious' times in Vegas. Man. I've had some. Yeah.

"But the best parties of my life were not in Vegas, so far. The best parties I've ever had were in Europe because people in Europe are less inhibited."

He will lead his own party here on Wednesday night, singing and DJing at "107.9-FM Presents Christmas With Coolio" at Rio's club Crown.

"I'm proud to say I live in Vegas," he says. "I plan on getting really involved in the betterment of life in Vegas. And I'm not one to keep my mouth shut. I'm gonna be out there in the trenches fighting, trying to make things better for everybody.

"Now when people come to Vegas, I'll say, 'Welcome to Vegas!' "

Doug Elfman's column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at He also blogs at