Coolio, a rapper and actor who was famous for his hit song “Gangsta’s Paradise,” has died at age 59. On Wednesday he went to a friend’s house. According to his longtime manager, Jarez, the rapper went to the bathroom and never came back out. After a while of calling for Coolio, his friend went to check on him and found him unconscious on the floor. EMTs pronounced him dead at the scene. They believe he suffered from cardiac arrest.
He was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in Compton, California, on August 1, 1963. His father was a member of the Black Panthers and his mother worked as a nurse’s aide. Coolio had a difficult childhood but managed to graduate from high school with honors; he then went to college at Los Angeles City College before dropping out after two years.
Coolio started rapping in 1984 under the name Cool “The Gangsta” Poppa (as seen on his first album), which led him to working with other West Coast rappers such as Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur – who called him “The Best Rapper Alive.” In 1989 he recorded two popular singles: “Gangsta’s Paradise” (which won Song of the Year at the Grammys) and “Fantastic Voyage.”
He signed a record deal with Tommy Boy Records in 1994 and released his debut album It Takes A Thief later that year. That same year he became famous with the release of the single “Fantastic Voyage” as part of his album My Soul. Other albums followed through the 2000s including “It Takes A Thief II: The Black Cat-New Jack Hustler” (1998), “Gangster’s Paradise: The Best Of Coolio” (2002), and “It Takes A Thief: The Black Cat-New Jack Hustler II” (2006).
In 1995 he won a Grammy award for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise” which became one of the most popular songs of that decade. It spent eight weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance as well as another Grammy Award for Best Music Video (Short Form). The song was written as part of Coolio’s experience during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and referenced several popular figures who were involved in it, including Rodney King.
He appeared on VH1’s “The Surreal Life” in 2003. That same year, he also took part in Celebrity Fear Factor. Both shows were reality TV and aired in 2003.
Coolio also appeared on MTV’s Made in 2008, where he coached a group of wanna-be rappers.
In addition to his own music, Coolio has worked with artists like Snoop Dogg and Rob Base. He also acted in the film “Saving Private Ryan” – which was released in 1998 and won five Academy Awards including Best Picture.
He was one of the first rappers to put several rap musicians together for a song, in the song “2 Minute Warning.”
Coolio will be greatly missed by his children, family, friends, and fans. May he rest in peace.
Written by Sheena Robertson
TMZ: Coolio Dead at 59