Rapper Coolio, well known for the top-charting single “Gangsta’s Paradise” from 1995, has passed away aged 59, according to his manager.
The Grammy-winning musician passed away in Los Angeles. No immediate explanation for the death was given.
Jarez Posey, a close friend and Coolio’s longtime manager, told AFP that the report was true but withheld any further information.
Posey revealed to the celebrity news website TMZ that Coolio was discovered unconscious in a friend’s restroom on Wednesday afternoon.
The musician, who was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on August 1 in Pennsylvania, spent the majority of his childhood in Compton, California, where he attended community college and had jobs like airport security before becoming a successful rap artist.
In the late 1980s, Coolio started his music career in California. By 1994, when he signed with Tommy Boy Records, he had established roots in the Los Angeles music scene.
His debut studio album “It Takes a Thief” featured the hit “Fantastic Voyage,” which peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song “Gangsta’s Paradise” from the following year, however, is what really cemented Coolio’s fame.
When the rapper released the song for the “Dangerous Minds” album, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, he shot to international popularity.
It was the most popular hit of the year and earned Coolio a Grammy for the song’s greatest rap solo performance at the ensuing awards ceremony.
The breakthrough single, which had a tune taken from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” from his groundbreaking album “Songs In The Key of Life,” sold millions of copies worldwide and topped pop charts in 16 different nations.
“It’s about life, because you’re living in the gangster’s paradise also,” Coolio said about his song, speaking in 1995 on the “Howard Stern Show.”
Coolio admitted that he had “no clue” that the song would continue to be popular for so long in an interview with Britain’s “The Voice” more than ten years later.
“I didn’t write Gangsta’s Paradise — it wrote me,” he said. “It was its own entity, out there in the spirit world, trying to find its way to the world, and it chose me as the vessel to come through.”
“I thought it was going to be a hood record; I never thought it would cross over the way that it did — to all ages, races, genres, countries and generations.”
He later released singles like “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” and “Too Hot,” but he was never able to duplicate the success of his hallmark song.
Coolio, a charming gangsta rap musician, gained more fans because to his upbeat music videos. Later, he pursued a career in acting, landing a role in the 1997 film “Batman and Robin” and appearing in several television cameos, including one on the popular 1990s program “The Nanny.”
The rapper’s death sparked astonishment on social media. With 1990s rapper Vanilla Ice tweeting: “I’m freaking out. I just heard my good friend Coolio passed away.”
“Peaceful Journey Brother. #Coolio,” wrote Questlove.
This is sad news. I witness first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace @Coolio Rapper Coolio.