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“Gangsta’s Paradise” Rapper Coolio, Dead At 59

Coolio (Shutterstock)
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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Rapper Coolio, who helped to define the sound of hip hop in the mid-1990s with hits such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 59.

His manager, Jarez Posey, confirmed his passing to the New York Times, stating that Coolio died at about 5 p.m. at the home of a friend. A cause of death was not available.

Coolio, the stage name of Artis Leon Ivey Jr., broke through in the mid-1990s with an impressive string of hits that included “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was featured in the 1995 film “Dangerous Minds.”

The chart-topping became Billboard’s Song of the Year in 1995 and won numerous awards, including the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1996.

Born in Pennsylvania, Coolio grew up in Compton, a fertile place for rap music in the early 1990s. He attended classes at Compton Community College and worked as a security officer and volunteer firefighter while beginning his rap career, recording his first single “Whatcha Gonna Do?” in 1987.

He signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1994 and released his debut album, It Takes a Thief, that same year. The album included hits such as “Fantastic Voyage” which landed heavy rotation on MTV and was one of the biggest rap singles that year.

He quickly followed his initial success up with Gangster’s Paradise, the following year, taking a song that was initially intended just for the film and building an album around it. While Gangster’s Paradise is inarguably the centerpiece, it also included hits such as “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Too Hot” which peaked at #24.

His final charting hit came in 1997 when “C U When U Get There” from his third album, My Soul, reached #12.

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