angel — Coolio, the rapper who was one of the biggest names in 1990s hip-hop with hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at the age of 59, his manager said.
Coolio died at a friend’s Los Angeles home, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear, but police said there were no obvious signs of foul play.
Coolio won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise”, a hit song from the 1995 soundtrack to the Michelle Pfeiffer film “Dangerous Minds” that sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” and was played continuously on MTV.
The Grammys, and the height of its popularity, came in 1996, amid a fierce feud between the two coastal hip-hop communities, which soon claimed the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG.
Coolio managed to stay above the fray for the most part.
“I want to claim this Grammy for the entire hip-hop nation, West Coast, East Coast and around the world, 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 thought the city was too dangerous.
He has said in interviews that he started rapping at 15 and knew what he wanted to do with his life by 18, but would attend community college and work as a volunteer firefighter and airport security before devoting himself full-time. – Hop scene.
His career began in 1994 with the release of his debut album “It Takes a Thief” on Tommy Boy Records. It’s opening track, “Fantastic Voyage,” would peak at No. 3 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 take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left, ’cause I’ve been so long an’ laughin’ and laughin’, that even my mother thinks I’m heart. Gone.”
Social media lit up with reactions to the unexpected death.
“This is sad news,” Ice Cube said on Twitter. “I witnessed this man make it to the top of the industry. Rest in peace, @coolio.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic tweeted “RIP Coolio” along with a photo of the two hugging.
Culio stated in an interview that he was not good with Yankovic’s 1996 “Gangsta’s Paradise” parody, “Amish Paradise.” But later they made peace.
The rapper would never again have a song as big as “Gangsta’s Paradise,” but followed up with hits with 1996’s “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” (1996), and 1997’s “CU When You Get There.” “
According to Luminet, his career album sales totaled 4.8 million with 978 million on-demand streams. He would go on to be nominated for a total of six Grammys.
And his distinctive personality has made him a cultural staple, acting occasionally, starring in a reality show about parenting called “Coolio’s Rules,” voicing episodes of the animated show “Gravity Falls” and providing theme music for Nickelodeon. Sitcom “Kenan & Kel.”
He has had occasional legal troubles, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, where a boutique shop owner said he punched her when she tried to stop him from taking merchandise 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.
ABC OTV Station contributed to this report
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