Tributes galore as “Gangsta’s Paradise” rapper Coolio dies at 59
US rapper Coolio has died at the age of 59.
Known for the iconic hit “Gangsta’s Paradise”, the BBC reports that his longtime manager Jarez Posey told US media the artist was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house in Los Angeles.
Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr, won a Grammy for the 1995 track “Gangsta’s Paradise”, which led the soundtrack for the movie Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
The track continues to be widely listened to and has just passed a billion streams on Spotify, according to his official website.
He started making music in the 1980s, but he cemented his place in hip hop history when he recorded “Gangsta’s Paradise” in 1995.
The exact cause of his death on Wednesday has not yet been revealed.
However Mr Posey told TMZ, which first reported the news, that paramedics believed he may have had a cardiac arrest.
His other hits included “Fantastic Voyage”, “Rollin’ With My Homies, 1, 2, 3, 4” (Sumpin’ New), and “Too Hot”.
He was active right up until his death – Coolio was in the middle of a tour with other 90s stars including Vanilla Ice and Young MC, and they performed in Texas just a few days ago.
“I’m freaking out I just heard my good friend Coolio passed away,” Vanilla Ice wrote on Twitter.
Snoop Dogg referenced Coolio’s world-famous track in his own tribute, writing: “Gangstas paradise. R I P.”
He also shared a picture of the two posing on the set of the music video for “Gangsta Walk”, a track they collaborated on in 2006.
“This is sad news. I witness first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry,” fellow rapper and actor Ice Cube said.
MC Hammer described Coolio as “one of the nicest dudes I’ve known”.
“Good people. RIP Coolio,” he wrote, sharing a black and white picture of the rapper, and later posting a second picture of the pair together, along with Tupac and Snoop Dogg.
Rapper Flavor Flav said he and Coolio had been due to “perform together this Tuesday”, saying his friend 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.
Michelle Pfeiffer said she thought Coolio’s track was the “reason our film saw so much success” and that she still gets “chills” whenever she hears it.
“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist Coolio,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a clip from the famous music video, which sees her sitting across the table from Coolio as he raps.
“A life cut entirely too short,” she continued. “I remember him being nothing but gracious.”
Dangerous Minds saw Pfeiffer play an ex-Marine who becomes a teacher working on a pilot programme for teenagers who are bright but underachieving, in a tough, inner-city school.
“Gangsta’s Paradise”, which samples the Stevie Wonder song “Pastime Paradise”, begins with Coolio reciting a line from the bible – “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” – before spinning off into a wide-ranging rap which finds him questioning the actions of those around him and wondering if he will “live to see 24”.
Dangerous Minds grossed nearly £85m worldwide and the track became the biggest-selling record of the year in the US, in 1995, and Coolio was awarded the Grammy for best rap solo performance.
A leading figure in the US West Coast rap music scene in the 90s, Coolio was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in the LA suburb of Compton, where his career flourished.
He rejected the label gangster rapper, and instead embraced the role of an all-round entertainer.
A talented producer and actor, he appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including Celebrity Big Brother in the UK in 2009.
And he even found an outlet for his love of food with a book and internet series, Cooking with Coolio.
Over a career spanning four decades he recorded eight studio albums and won an American Music Award and three MTV Video Music Awards.