Coolio, Celebrated Rapper Behind ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ Dies At 59
Rapper Coolio, who reached the height of his fame in the 90s with tracks like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “C U When U Get There,” died in Los Angeles at the age of 59.
He died at the home of a friend, who said the cause was likely a heart attack, though that hasn’t been confirmed by investigators.
COOLIO CAUSE OF DEATH
Coolio also had a healthy independent music career after his most prominent years, and also worked extensively as a film and TV actor beginning with roles in Martin and The Parent ‘Hood in 1995.
Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania and later moved to Compton, California. He attended Compton Community College, and worked odd jobs including one at LAX Airport before committing to music full-time.
His first success as a rapper came from his involvement in the group WC and the Maad Circle, where he contributed to the album Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed. He was later signed to Tommy Boy Records in 1994, and his most successful single “Gangsta’s Paradise” came out a year later. This single was made for the soundtrack of the film Dangerous Minds, and Coolio also created the opening track for the hit Nickelodeon show Kenan & Kel.
The song reinterpreted the music and chorus of “Pastime Paradise” by Stevie Wonder, and eventually won Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1996.
He briefly feuded with Weird Al Yankovic when the parody artist riffed on his hit with the song “Amish Paradise,” but later reflected that he did find the song funny and he was being cocky fighting against it.
Through the height of his fame, Coolio collaborated with other major rappers of the time like Biz Markie, the Wu-Tang Clan and LL Cool J. After several hit albums, Tommy Boy Records dropped Coolio after his album My Soul underperformed compared to his other projects.
Coolio continued as an independent artist, and worked prolifically even if he never reached the same levels of radio play. His last album, Long Live The Thief came out in 2017.
Coolio made an extensive number of film and television appearances, both as an actor and as himself. He had a two-episode run on The Nanny, voiced Kwanza-Bot in two episodes of Futurama and a movie adaptation, and even voiced a Wax model version of himself in the cartoon Gravy Falls.
He is survived by his six children that he had with ex-wife Josefa Salinas.
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