On Wednesday night in Los Angeles, California, legendary rapper Coolio died at the age of 59.
Coolio's longtime manager Jarez Posey confirmed to TMZ that the rapper had unexpectedly passed away while he was visiting a friend. The artist had reportedly excused himself to use the bathroom but after not having returned, his friends discovered him on the floor. Paramedics would later pronounce Coolio dead on the scene. While there's no official cause of death, Posey suspects that he might have suffered cardiac arrest.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., the Compton native quickly rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles rap scene on the back of singles like “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and “What Makes You Dance (Force Groove).” Coolio would then go on to join hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle and contribute to their debut album Ain't a Damn Thang Changed in 1991. He eventually signed to Tommy Boy Records and released his debut solo album It Takes a Thief in 1994.
Coolio is perhaps best remembered for his 1995 hit "Gangsta's Paradise" which famously appeared in the Michelle Pfeiffer-led film Dangerous Minds. The song would go on to top the Billboard chart for three weeks and netted Coolio a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The track also served as the inspiration for one of Weird Al Yankovic's better-known parodies "Amish Paradise," although the rapper was never a huge fan of the humorous rendition.
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Coolio confirmed that "Gangsta's Paradise" was written in one sitting. “‘As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/ I take a look at my life and I see there’s nothing left’—I freestyled that; that came off the top of the dome and I wrote that down,” he told the publication. “I thought about it for a minute, and then I wrote the whole rest of the song without stopping, from the first verse to the third verse. You know, I like to believe that it was divine intervention. ‘Gangsta’s Paradise; wanted to be born; it wanted to come to life, and it chose me as the vessel.”
Outside of music, Coolio branched out into acting, appearing on shows such as The Nanny, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Batman & Robin, Gravity Falls as well as a recurring role on Futurama as Kwanzaa-Bot. Coolio was notably a big fan of cartoons, once remarking in an interview, “I’m just a big kid.” Coolio cemented a place in countless childhoods for rapping the theme song "Aw, Here It Goes" for the hit Nickelodeon series, Keenan & Kel.
Coolio is survived by his ex-wife, Josefa Salinas, and his ten children Artisha, Brandi, Jackie, Artis, Shayne, Kate, Darius, Zhaneand, Milan and Grits.
Below, read the tributes Coolio's friends and colleagues made to the late rapper:
Photo courtesy of Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty
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