Coolio, the ’90s rapper who lit up the music charts with hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died, his friend and manager Jarez Posey, told CNN. He was 59.
His manager said he was visiting a friend’s house in Los Angeles when he apparently suffered a heart attack.
actress Michelle Pfeiffer and rappers Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, and LL Cool J have led tributes to Coolio after his death aged 59.
According to his manager, he was visiting a friend’s house in Los Angeles on Wednesday when he appears to have suffered a heart attack.
Real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, Coolio was best known for his 1995 hit Gangsta’s Paradise, which was recorded as the soundtrack for Pfeiffer’s film Dangerous Minds.
Propelling him to international fame, it remained at number one on the US Billboard charts for three weeks and earned him a Grammy for best solo rap performance.
Sharing a clip from the music video on Instagram, Pfeiffer said she was “heartbroken” over a “life cut entirely too short”.
“As some of you may know I was lucky enough to work with him on Dangerous Minds in 1995. He won a Grammy for his brilliant song on the soundtrack – which I think was the reason our film saw so much success.
“I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song.”
She signed off the post: “Rest in power Artis Leon Ivey Jr”.
‘One of the nicest dudes I’ve known’
MC Hammer described Coolio as “one of the nicest dudes I’ve known”. “Good people. RIP Coolio,” he wrote. He also shared a black and white picture of the rapper. He later posted a second picture of the pair together, along with Tupac and Snoop Dogg.
Musical comedian Weird Al Yankovic paid his respects by sharing a picture of the pair hugging and adding: “RIP Coolio”.
He parodied Gangsta’s Paradise as Amish Paradise, though at the time it was claimed Coolio had not given him permission to do so. Coolio stated in interviews the pair had since made amends.
Former NBA player Matt Bonner also recalled time spent with Coolio, saying in a Twitter post the rapper was a “huge hoops fan… we hosted him at a game a few years back… biggest crowd of all-time at a Spurs Overtime concert.”
Coolio grew up in Compton, California, according to a bio on his official website.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1994, he recalled falling into the drug scene but getting himself out by pursuing a career as a firefighter.
“I wasn’t looking for a career, I was looking for a way to clean up – a way to escape the drug thing,” he told the publication. “It was going to kill me and I knew I had to stop. In firefighting training was discipline I needed. We ran every day. I wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing the stuff I usually did.”
His rap career began in the ’80s, and he gained fame in the underground scene. “Fantastic Voyage” was the first song that really put him on the map.
Arguably his biggest song, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” from the soundtrack to the film “Dangerous Minds,” grew his star power to gigantic proportions. He won a Grammy in 1996 for the song.
In the age of streaming, it has continued to live on. In July 2022, the song reached a milestone of one billion views on YouTube. “It’s one of those kinds of songs that transcends generations,” he said in a recent interview. “I didn’t use any trendy words…I think it made it timeless.” Over his career, Coolio sold more than 17 million records, according to his website.
Author: Seyi Awoleye