Coolio, the rapper who was once one of hip-hop’s biggest names in the 1990s 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 home in Los Angeles, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.
Coolio won a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rap Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 hit from Michelle Pfeiffer’s “Dangerous Minds” soundtrack, which sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” and was featured in the song. broadcast continuously on MTV.
The Grammy Award, and the peak of his popularity, came in 1996, amid a bitter feud between the hip-hop communities of the two coasts, which would claim the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG shortly thereafter. .
Coolio has largely overcome conflict.
“I want to accept this Grammy on behalf of the entire hip-hop nation, the West Coast, the East Coast and around the world, uniting we stand, dividing us fall,” he said from the stage as he accepted. prize.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., in Monessen, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California. He spent his teenage years in Northern California, where his mother sent him because she felt the city was too dangerous.
He said in interviews that he started rapping at 15 and knew it was what he wanted to do with his life, but would go to community college and work as a love firefighter. volunteering and airport security before devoting full time to work-scene shops.
His career took off with the release of his 1994 debut album on Tommy Boy Records, “It Takes a Thief.” Its opening track, “Fantastic Voyage,” would peak at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” became the number-one single, with a gloomy opening line:
“As I passed through the valley of the shadow of death, I looked back on my life and realized that there wasn’t much left, because I had been frustrated and amused ‘for so long, that even my mother I also think my mind. No more.”
Social media is abuzz with reactions to sudden death.
“This is sad news,” Ice Cube said on Twitter. “I witnessed this man’s honing to be at the top of the industry first-hand. Rest In Peace, @Coolio.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic tweeted “RIP Coolio” along with a photo of the two hugging.
Coolio said in an interview at the time it was released that he was not interested in Yankovic’s 1996 “Gangsta’s Paradise” parody, “Amish Paradise”. But the two later made peace.
The rapper would never have had a song as big as “Gangsta’s Paradise,” but there were hits afterward with “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” (1996) and “CU When U Get There” 1997″. “
Total album sales during his career hit 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand streams of his songs, according to Luminate. He will be nominated for six Grammy Awards overall.
And with his distinctive personality, he would become a cultural staple, acting occasionally, starring in a parenting reality show called “Coolio’s Rules”, voicing for an episode of the animated show “Gravity Falls” and provided the theme music for the Nickelodeon sitcom “Kenan & Kel.”
He has had occasional legal troubles, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, where a boutique store owner said he punched her when she tried to stop him from taking goods without paying. He was sentenced to six months of probation and fined $30,000.
He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They have 4 children together.