'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio dies in Los Angeles at age 59

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Thursday, September 29, 2022
'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio dies in LA at 59
Rapper Coolio, known for songs such as "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage," died in Los Angeles at the age of 59.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop's biggest names in the 1990s with hit songs such as "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage," died in Los Angeles Wednesday at the age of 59.

Coolio's agent Sheila Finegan confirmed the rapper's death to Eyewitness News. Manager Jarez Posey said he died at a friend's home in Los Angeles.

Paramedics responded to the home in Jefferson Park after a report of a medical emergency at around 4 p.m. The rapper was found unconscious.

The cause of death was not immediately clear, but police said there are no apparent signs of foul play.

"He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly," Finegan said in a statement. "Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing."

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" 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 Artis Leon Ivey Jr. 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, "It Takes a Thief." It's opening track, "Fantastic Voyage," would reach No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year later, "Gangsta's Paradise" would become a No. 1 single.

Coolio was also known for the songs "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" and "C U When U Get There."

Despite occasional brushes with the law, Coolio was well-liked in the entertainment industry and his hairstyle became part of his trademark.

He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They had four children together.

Social media lit up with reactions to the unexpected death.

Pfeiffer wrote she was "heartbroken" to hear about the rapper's death and remembered him as "being nothing but gracious."

Snoop Dogg posted a photo on Instagram of him and Coolio with a caption that read: "Gangstas paradise. R. I. P."

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.