US: 'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio dies aged 59

He was also nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late 1980s, apart from a win for his 1995 hit

By AP

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Photos: AP
Photos: AP

Published: Thu 29 Sep 2022, 7:04 AM

Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop's biggest names of the 1990s with hits including 'Gangsta's Paradise' and 'Fantastic Voyage', died on Wednesday aged 59, his manager said.

The rapper, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr, died at the Los Angeles home of a friend, long-time manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.

He won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for 'Gangsta's Paradise', the 1995 hit from the soundtrack of the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds, that sampled Stevie Wonder's 1976 song 'Pastime Paradise'.

He was nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late 1980s.

Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California, where he went to community college. He worked as a volunteer firefighter, and in airport security, before devoting himself full-time to the hip-hop scene.

His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, titled 'It Takes a Thief'. It's opening track, 'Fantastic Voyage', would go on to reach No 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year later, 'Gangsta's Paradise' was born, which would go on to become a No 1 single, with its dark, poignant lyrics.

Social media lit up with reactions to the unexpected death.

“This is sad news,” Ice Cube said on Twitter. “I witness first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace, @Coolio.”

“Peaceful journey brother,” Questlove tweeted.

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