Coolio Dead At 59

Brenda Chase Online USA Inc / Getty Images

Coolio Dead At 59

Brenda Chase Online USA Inc / Getty Images

Coolio, the influential ’90s rapper best known for radio hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died. According to TMZ, Coolio collapsed while visiting a friend on Wednesday in Los Angeles and was later found by his longtime manager Jarez. The friend reportedly called the EMTs, who pronounced the rapper dead on the scene. Jarez told TMZ Coolio had suffered cardiac arrest, though an official cause of death has not been determined. He was 59.

Coolio was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in 1963 in Monessen, Pennsylvania. He later moved to Compton, California. His first single, “Whatcha Gonna Do?,” came out in 1987. He also recorded “What Makes You Dance (Force Groove)” with Nu-Skool in 1988. In the early ’90s, Coolio began to rise in the LA rap scene, joining WC And The Maad Circle and contributing to the group’s debut album, Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed.

In 1994, Coolio signed to Tommy Boy Records and released his solo debut album, It Takes A Thief. Its lead single “Fantastic Voyage” peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, while It Takes A Thief peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200.

The following year, Coolio released “Gangsta’s Paradise” featuring L.V. It famously soundtracked the film Dangerous Minds and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Weird Al Yankovic also parodied the track with his rendition titled “Amish Paradise,” though Coolio would claim that the comedian hadn’t asked for his permission. “Gangsta’s Paradise” won Coolio the Grammy in 1996 for Best Rap Solo Performance.

At the 1997 Grammy Awards, Coolio earned three nominations: Best Rap Album for Gangsta’s Paradise, Best Rap Solo Performance for “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New),” and Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group for “Stomp.”

Coolio was a prominent force in pop culture across the ’90s, particularly with his Top-40 track “It’s All the Way Live (Now)” from the soundtrack to the film Eddie and in the collaborative track “Hit ‘Em High,” which featured B-Real, Method Man, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes and was on the Space Jam soundtrack. In 1996, Coolio also recorded the theme song “Aw, Here It Goes!” for the Nickelodeon comedy Kenan & Kel, which ran for four seasons.

Coolio recorded eight albums total across his career, with his final record being 2009’s From The Bottom 2 The Top. In more recent years, he appeared on TV, playing himself on Fox’s comedy puppet show Let’s Be Real in 2021 and cameoing on the TV Land show Teachers in 2017, among other roles.

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