Coolio, rapper known for ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ and ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ dead at age 59

LOS ANGELES — Rapper Coolio, who achieved mainstream success in the ’90s with songs like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died at the age of 59.

Coolio’s agent confirmed the rapper’s death to our sister channel KABC-TV. According to the Associated Press, he died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles. The cause was not immediately clear.

A police source told KABC=TV that a death investigation has been launched and there are no obvious signs of foul play.

Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr., is best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was featured in the film “Dangerous Minds,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

Posey said Coolio died Wednesday in the afternoon hours local time in Los Angeles. Details of the circumstances were not initially available.

Trinity Artists International, which represented Coolio, released a statement stating, “We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client Coolio, who passed away this afternoon. He touched the world with his talent and we will miss him deeply. Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has reached out about his death. Please have Coolio’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

Coolio won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 hit from the soundtrack of the Michelle Pfeiffer film “Dangerous Minds,” which sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.”

During his career, which began in the late 1980s, he was nominated for five more Grammys.

Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania just south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California where he attended community college. He worked as a volunteer firefighter and in airport security before turning to the hip-hop scene full-time.

His career began in 1994 with the release of his debut album It Takes a Thief on Tommy Boy Records. Its opener “Fantastic Voyage” would reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” became a #1 single with its dark opening lyrics:

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I take one look at my life and realize there isn’t much left because I’ve been banging and laughing for so long even my mom thinks my mind is gone.”

ABC OTV stations contributed to this report

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Coolio, rapper known for ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ and ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ dead at age 59

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