Grammy-Award Winning Rapper, Coolio, Dead at 59
Grammy-award-winning rapper, actor and producer best known for his chart-topping 1995 hit “Gangsta’s Paradise,” Coolio has died. He was 59 years old.
Coolio’s manager Jarel Posey said in a statement to Variety that Coolio died around 5 p.m. PT yesterday, and According to TMZ, he was found at a friend’s house and pronounced dead by first responders.
Coolio’s manager at Trinity Artists International, Sheila Finegan, said in a statement, “We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon. He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly. Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing. Please have Coolio’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”
Coolio broke into the mainstream at 32 years old after recording “Gangsta’s Paradise” for a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer titled, Dangerous Minds. After the release of the film, the song climbed the carts topping the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks straight and ending as the number one single of the year in the U.S. The following year the song was nominated for record of the year and best rap solo performance; Coolio won the latter. Famously the song was satirized by Weird Al” Yankovic, much to the chagrin of the rapper as he did not give Weird Al permission, though, in later years, the two ended up seeing eye to eye.
Coolio was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on Aug. 1, 1963, in Los Angeles and later moved to Compton, Calif. Before breaking into the rap scene, he attended Compton Community College, he worked as a volunteer in firefighting and as security at Los Angeles International Airport. Coolio recorded his first single in 1987, titled “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and later joined the hip-hop collective WC and the Maad Circle in 1991. In 1994 he was signed to Tommy Boy Records and released his debut LP, It Takes a Thief. The offering reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 200. Following the success of “Gangsta’s Paradise,” Coolio continued to fan the embers of his fame by writing “Aw, Here It Goes!” for the beloved show Kenan & Kel, in which he also acted. He released his third LP My Soul in, 1997, which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was his last with Tommy Boy Records. According to his website, over his career, Coolio sold more than 17 million records.
Following the turn of the millennium Coolio continued to release music, including Coolio.com in 2001, El Cool Magnifico in 2002, The Return of the Gangsta in 2006, Steal Hear in 2008, and From the Bottom 2 the Top in 2009. Throughout his career, Coolio acted, appearing in many films and shows –often acting as himself – including a TV spin-off of Dangerous Minds, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Batman & Robin, Midnight Mass, twice on Futurama, Gravity Falls and more. Ever interested, the artist also released a cookbook in 2009 titled Cookin’ With Coolio 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price and competed on the Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and came in second.
Coolio remained active until his death performing at Chicago’s Riot Fest on Sept. 18 of this year and, according to IMDb, had three movie spots on the horizon, including a monster film titled It Wants Blood 2, a TV movie Vegas High and a film by American film producer and director Rob Margolies, Bobcat Moretti.
Coolio is survived by his 10 children: Artis Ivey III, Milan Ivey, Grtis Ivey, Brandi Ivy, Artisha Ivey, Shayne Ivey, Kate Ivey, Darius Ivey, Jackie Ivey and Zhaneand Ivey.