Coolio: Gangsta’s Paradise’ Rapper, Dies at 59

Coolio: Gangsta’s Paradise’ Rapper, Dies at 59

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Coolio, the Grammy-winning rapper, producer and actor best known for his 1995 hit Gangsta’s Paradise, has died. He was 59.

The rapper’s longtime manager Jarel Posey confirmed the news to Variety, saying that Coolio died around 5 p.m. PT on Wednesday afternoon. According to TMZ, Coolio was found at a friend’s house.

Coolio went to the bathroom, Posey revealed to TMZ, and his friend grew concerned when the rapper was indisposed for an extended period of time and didn’t respond to his name being called. The unidentified friend eventually went in and found Coolio laying on the floor.

An ambulance was called and EMTs pronounced the “C U When U Get There” performer dead on the scene.

Posey said the paramedics believe Coolio went into cardiac arrest, which they suspect is his cause of death.

An official cause of death has yet to be determined.

“We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon. He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly,” Sheila Finegan, his manager at Trinity Artists International, said in a statement to Variety. “Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing. Please have Coolio’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

The song was soon spoofed by “Weird Al” Yankovic, who satirized it as “Amish Paradise,” though Coolio was adamant that he did not give Weird Al permission to do so. However, Coolio later said in interviews that the two made amends.

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on Aug. 1, 1963 in Pennsylvania, Coolio later moved to Compton, Calif. where he joined the hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle in 1991. A few years later, in 1994, Coolio signed with Tommy Boy Records and released his debut album “It Takes a Thief.” Catapulted by its lead single “Fantastic Voyage,” “It Takes a Thief” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart and was certified platinum.

After the success of “Gangsta’s Paradise” in the mid-’90s, Coolio continued to grow in fame and eventually recorded “Aw, Here It Goes!” for the opening sequence of Nickelodeon’s “Kenan & Kel,” which he also appeared in. His third album, “My Soul,” released in 1997 and contained “C U When U Get There,” which hit No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified gold but didn’t have the same effect as his first two records, and thus became his last record with Tommy Boy.

Coolio would go on to release five more studio albums: 2001’s “Coolio.com,” 2002’s “El Cool Magnifico,” 2006’s “The Return of the Gangsta,” 2008’s “Steal Hear” and 2009’s “From the Bottom 2 the Top.” As his commercial success in music faded, Coolio became a TV personality, placing third on a German talent show about artists looking to make a comeback in 2004 and appearing on “Celebrity Big Brother” in 2009. Food was also a big love of Coolio’s. He released a cookbook, “Cookin’ With Coolio,” in 2009 and competed on the Food Network series “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off” in 2012, coming in second place.

 

A talented actor as well, Coolio appeared in dozens of films and TV shows throughout his career. Starting with a guest spot as himself on “Martin” (1995), Coolio’s credits include the “Dangerous Minds” TV spinoff (1996), “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (1996), “Batman & Robin” (1997), “The Nanny” (1998), “Tyrone” (1999), “Midnight Mass” (1999), “Charmed” (2002), “Star-ving” (2009), “Futurama” (2001, 2010) and “Gravity Falls” (2012).

According to his IMDb page, Coolio had three movies in the works: Rob Margolies’ “Bobcat Moretti,” a monster film called “It Wants Blood 2” and a TV movie “Vegas High.” Coolio also continued to perform, having just recently played a set at Chicago’s Riot Fest on Sept. 18.