Rapper Coolio dies at 59
Coolio, the rapper who was among the biggest names in 1990s hip-hop with hits such as « Gangsta’s Paradise » and « Fantastic Voyage, » died Wednesday at age 59, his manager announced.
Coolio, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., died at a friend’s home 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 to Michelle Pfeiffer’s film « Dangerous Minds » which sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song « Pastime Paradise. »
He was nominated for five more Grammys during a career that began in the late 1980s.
Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California, where he attended 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. » Its opening track, « Fantastic Voyage », would reach number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, « Gangsta’s Paradise » would become a No. 1 single, with its dark opening lyrics:
« As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I look back at my life and realize that there’s not much left, because I’ve exploded and laughed so long that even my mother thinks that my spirit is gone. »