‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies aged 59

Coolio, the rapper who was among the biggest names in 1990s hip-hop with hits such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at age 59, his manager announced.

Coolio died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.

Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 hit from the soundtrack to Michelle Pfeiffer’s film “Dangerous Minds” which sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” and was played continuously on MTV.

The Grammy, and the height of its popularity, came in 1996, amid a fierce feud between hip-hop communities on both coasts that would claim the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG soon after.

Coolio managed to stay above the conflict most of the time.

“I would like to claim this Grammy on behalf of the entire hip-hop nation, West Coast, East Coast and worldwide, united we stand, divided we fall,” he said from the stage as he accepted the award.

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., in Monessen, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California. He spent some time as a teenager in Northern California, where his mother sent him because she felt the town was too dangerous.

He has stated in interviews that he started rapping at 15 and knew at 18 that was what he wanted to do with his life, but would go to community college and work as a volunteer firefighter and in street safety. airports before devoting himself full-time to the hip. – scene hop.

His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, “It Takes a Thief.” Its opening track, “Fantastic Voyage”, would reach number three on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” would become a No. 1 single, with its dark opening lyrics:

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I look at my life and realize that there’s not much left, because I’ve exploded and laughed so long that even my mother thinks that my spirit is gone.”

Social media lit up with reactions to the unexpected death.

“This is sad news”, Ice Cube said on Twitter. “I have witnessed this man’s rise to the top of the industry firsthand. Rest in peace, @Coolio.

“Weird Al” Yankovic tweeted “RIP Coolio” accompanied by a photo of the two men hugging.

Coolio had stated in an interview at the time of its release that he was uncool with Yankovic’s 1996 “Gangsta’s Paradise” parody, “Amish Paradise”. But the two later made peace.

The rapper would never have a song as important as ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ again, but had later hits with 1996’s ‘1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)’ and 1997’s ‘CU When U Get There’ .”

His career album sales totaled 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand streams of his songs, according to Luminate. He would be nominated for six Grammys in total.

And with his distinctive personality, he would become a cultural staple, acting occasionally, starring in a parenting reality show called “Coolio’s Rules”, providing voice for an episode of the animated show “Gravity Falls” and providing the theme music for Nickelodeon. “Kenan & Kel” sitcom.

He had occasional legal troubles, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, where a shop owner said he hit her when she tried to stop him from taking goods without paying . He was sentenced to six months probation and fined $30,000.

He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They had four children together.

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