Why Coolio's Kenan And Kel Theme Song Is One Of The Best Ever

Awwwww, here it goes.

We learned yesterday of the unfortunate and untimely passing of Coolio, one of the greatest American rappers in history, a prolific record producer, and an occasional actor. He was only 59. Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., the man called Coolio started his career in the mid-'80s, achieving massive mainstream success in the mid-to-late 1990s with his albums "It Takes a Thief," "My Soul," and the remarkable "Gangsta's Paradise." 

Coolio has always felt like one of those omnipresent influences, with "Gangsta's Paradise" appearing in the film "Dangerous Minds," the endlessly catchy "Rolling With My Homies" serving as the soundtrack to one of the most memorable moments in "Clueless," and his song "Aw, Here It Goes" in the Nickelodeon hit-show "Kenan and Kel" continuing to be one of the absolute best theme songs ever written.

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The '90s were a golden age of incorporating rap and hip-hop artists on television, with Coolio even appearing on a handful of episodes of Nickelodeon's sketch comedy series "All That," the show that introduced the world to the magnificent pairing of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. The duo's spin-off series saw the two as fictionalized versions of their teen selves living in Chicago, becoming a fast favorite for Nickelodeon's teen-targeted programming, and developing a cult-like following over the years. Everything about "Kenan and Kel" is worth celebrating, but it was Coolio's contribution to the theme that elevated the show to a whole new level, especially his inclusion in the show's opening credits.

Chaos on the orange couch

"Aw, Here It Goes" stands the test of time because it works as both an infectious earworm that perfectly encapsulates the flavor of mid-'90s hip-hop, and also as a perfect reminder of the style of comedy "Kenan and Kel" was trying to emulate. Coolio name drops famous pairings like The Hardy Boys, Seigfried and Roy, Abbott and Costello, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Penn and Teller, delivering some serious respect to the young duo by putting them in the same category as so many other greats. The opening credits see Coolio, Kenan, and Kel running around Universal Studios Hollywood, hanging out of the globe, riding through the park in a cool car in front of the Hard Rock Cafe to adoring fans, and plopping down on the famous Nickelodeon orange couch to watch the latest episode.

The opening credits were shot like a music video, which immediately added a level of coolness that other shows of the time could only hope to achieve. From the opening line of "Everybody out there go run and tell your homeboys and homegirls it's time for 'Kenan and Kel,'" Coolio has the audience primed and prepped for a good time. The fact the song ends with Coolio humming the at-the-time channel theme of "Nick na Nick, Nick na Nick, Nick, Nick," is the perfect end cap reminder that this is still a friendly show, a way to comfort any nervous suburbanites who might have been confused (or racistly concerned) why a gangsta rapper was on their child's TV.

Don't touch that dial or leave the room

"Kenan and Kel" was groundbreaking television at the time of its release, and over 25 years later, the theme song still lives in the bones of the generation that grew up watching it. Coolio's presence on the track and in the intro was the immediate signal for so many to run into the living room and tune in, and there's a high probability that a bunch of '90s kids could recite the entire theme from memory without having listened to the song in years.

In a hilarious interview with Complex, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell confessed that Coolio was also the pair's introduction to weed during his appearance on "All That," a story that is so unbelievably funny it deserves its own unauthorized Lifetime dramatization. 

Coolio made plenty of appearances on reality TV and played himself in film and television, but also made some pretty hilarious cameos in films like "Batman & Robin," "Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th," "The Convent," and even the director's cut of "Daredevil." That's right, Coolio has technically been in a Marvel movie. The loss of Coolio is a true tragedy, but his legacy lives on in his incredibly wide range of artistic contributions.

Pour out some orange soda to a real one.