Rapper Coolio, best known for his 1995 song, Gangsta’s Paradise, has died aged 59 in L.A. His manager confirmed the news, while a cause of death has not been disclosed yet.
Real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, the American rapper, record producer and actor was born on August 1, 1963 in Monessen, Pennsylvania. After attending Compton Community College, he worked as a volunteer firefighter and in a security role at Los Angeles International Airport.
He achieved mainstream success as a rapper in the mid-to-late 1990s with his albums It Takes a Thief (1994), Gangsta's Paradise (1995), and My Soul (1997).
Aside from his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single Gangsta's Paradise, he was also known for the tracks Fantastic Voyage (1994), 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New) (1996), and C U When U Get There (1997).
Gangsta's Paradise features R&B singer L.V., and was used for the film Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfiefer. It became one of the most successful rap songs of all time, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.
It was the number one selling single in 1995 in the United States and was a global hit, reaching number one the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand, as well as being the second-best-selling single of 1995 in the UK.
The song was listed at number 85 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time and it has sold over five million copies in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, while the music video hit one billion Youtube views in July 2022.
At the 1996 Grammy Awards, the song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance, and the album of the same name was certified two times Platinum by the RIAA and sold more than two million copies globally.
Those in the entertainment industry have been paying tribute following the news:
Michelle Pfiefer said:
“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist Coolio. A life cut entirely too short. As some of you may know I was lucky enough to work with him on Dangerous Minds in 1995. He won a Grammy for his brilliant song on the soundtrack - which I think was the reason our film saw so much success. I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song. Sending love and light to his family. Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr.”
Snoop Dogg posted a photo of the two of them with the words: “Gangsta's Paradise. R. I. P.”
Rapper MC Hammer described Coolio as "one of the nicest dudes I've known. Good people. RIP Coolio.”
Oscar-winning musician Questlove tweeted: "Peaceful Journey Brother."
Rapper Flavor Flav said Coolio was "the West Coast Flavor Flav... He loved telling everyone that."
Singer Debbie Harry paid tribute by saying: "Rest in power", while rapper LL Cool J wrote the same message, along with "Love & Respect".
Musician Al Yankovic posted a picture of himself with the late rapper, while MC Hammer said: “One of the nicest dudes I’ve known. Good people. R.I.P. Coolio.”
Former NWA star Ice Cube said: "This is sad news. I witnessed first hand this man's grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace."
Photo by Des Willie/Redferns