Coolio, the rapper who was one of the biggest hip-hop recordings of the 1990s with hits such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” passed away on Wednesday at the age of 59, his manager said.
Coolio died at a friend’s house in Los Angeles, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.
Coolio 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” which featured a sample of Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” and played constantly. MTV was played.
The Grammy, and the pinnacle of its popularity, came in 1996, amid a fierce feud between the hip-hop communities of the two coasts, which would shortly after cost the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG.
Coolio largely managed to stay above the conflict.
“I want to claim this Grammy on behalf of the entire hip-hop nation, West Coast, East Coast and worldwide, united we stand, divided we fall,” he said from the podium as he accepted the award.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., in Monessen, Pennsylvania south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California. As a teenager, he spent some time in Northern California, where his mother sent him because she thought the city was too dangerous.
He said in interviews that he started rapping at 15 and knew at 18 that this was what he wanted to do with his life but that he would go to community school and work as a volunteer firefighter and airport security. before dedicating himself to the hip full-time. -hop scene.
His career began with the release of his debut album in 1994 on Tommy Boy Records, “It Takes a Thief”. The opening track, “Fantastic Voyage”, would reach number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” would become a No. 1 single, with its dark opening lyrics:
“Walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I look at my life and realize there isn’t much left because I’ve laughed and laughed for so long that even my mother thinks my ghost is gone.”
Social media brightened with reactions to the unexpected death.
“This is sad news,” Ice Cube said on Twitter. “Wishing this man’s rut to the top of the industry. Rest in peace, @Coolio.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic tweeted “RIP Coolio” along with a photo of the two men hugging.
Coolio had said in an interview that he wasn’t cool with Yankovic’s 1996 “Gangsta’s Paradise” parody, “Amish Paradise.” But the two later made peace.
The rapper would never again have a song nearly as big as “Gangsta’s Paradise,” but had later hits with “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” (1996) and 1997’s “CU When U Get There.” . “
Sales of his career albums totaled 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand streams of his songs, according to Luminate. He would be nominated for a total of six Grammys.
And with his signature personality, he would go on to become a cultural staple, making occasional appearances, starring in a parenting reality show called “Coolio’s Rules”, providing the voice for an episode of the animated show “Gravity Falls” and providing the theme music for the Nickelodeon sitcom “Kenan & Kel.”
He had occasional legal troubles, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, where a boutique store owner said he beat her when she tried to stop him from accepting merchandise without paying. He was sentenced to six months’ probation and a $30,000 fine.
He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They had four children together.