The hip-hop world was shocked by the death of California artist Coolio. The “Gangsta Paradise” singer died on Sept. 28 at the age of 59.
Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr., was one of hip-hop’s biggest names in the 1990s. His other hit songs included “Fantastic Voyage,” “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New),” and “C U When U Get There.”
According to his manager Jarez Posey, Coolio died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles. Paramedics responded to the home after a report of a medical emergency at around 4 p.m. The rapper was found unconscious, ABC News reported.
The cause of death was not immediately clear, but police said there were no signs of foul play.
Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” his 1995 hit from the soundtrack of the film “Dangerous Minds” that sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.”
Coolio was nominated for five other Grammys in all.
Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, Coolio moved to Compton, California, where he went to community college. He decided to pursue music. Almost immediately, he stood out for his rhyme style and his unusual braided hairstyle.
Signed to Tommy Boy Records, he dropped his debut album, “It Takes a Thief,” in 1994 with the lead track “Fantastic Voyage” reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, his “Gangsta’s Paradise” would become a No. 1 single.
The song is still gaining fame.
In July 2022, “Gangsta’s Paradise” 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.”
While his career was rising in the 1990s, Coolio had some brushes with the law and he was dealing with drug addiction.
His desire to be a volunteer firefighter got him to give up drugs.
“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 Los Angeles Times in 1994. “It was going to kill me and I knew I had to stop. Firefighting training was the discipline I needed. We ran every day. I wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing the stuff I usually did.”
In 2019, Coolio was charged with a felony count of possessing crack cocaine, a misdemeanor for possessing a crack pipe, and a battery charge, Reuters reported. He was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport when authorities found the drug and pipe in his luggage.
Over his career, Coolio sold more than 17 million records, CNN reported.
In recent years, Coolio made television appearances on shows like “Celebrity Cook Off” and “Celebrity Chopped.” He also had a show on Oxygen, “Coolio’s Rules,” that aired 2008.
Coolio attends the 64th Venice Film Festival, Sept. 5, 2007. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)