Legendary ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies – NBC Chicago

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Legendary 'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio dies - NBC Chicago
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Coolio, the rapper who was among the biggest names in 1990s hip-hop with hits such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at age 59, his manager announced.

Coolio, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.

Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 hit from the soundtrack to Michelle Pfeiffer’s film “Dangerous Minds” which sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.”

He was nominated for five more Grammys during a career that began in the late 1980s.

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

His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, “It Takes a Thief.” Its opening track, “Fantastic Voyage”, would reach number three on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” would become a No. 1 single, with its dark opening lyrics:

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I look back at my life and realize that there’s not much left, because I’ve exploded and laughed so long that even my mother thinks that my spirit is gone.”

Social media lit up with reactions to the unexpected death.

“This is sad news”, Ice Cube said on Twitter. “I have witnessed this man’s rise to the top of the industry first hand. Rest in peace, @Coolio.

“Peaceful journey, brother”, Questlove tweeted.

NBC Chicago

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