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Coolio (1997)
Coolio won a Grammy in 1996 for best solo rap performanceImage: Stephanie Pilick/dpa/picture alliance
MusicUnited States of America

US rapper Coolio dies aged 59

September 29, 2022

The Grammy-winning artist became known in the 1990s for hits like "Gangsta's Paradise."

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US rapper Coolio, who was among hip-hop's biggest names in the 1990s, has died, his manager said Wednesday.

The 59-year-old, born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., was well known for hits such as "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage."

He died at the Los Angeles home of a friend, long-time manager Jarez Posey told the Associated Press. The cause of his death was not immediately clear.

Reactions came in on social media about his sudden death. Actor Michelle Pfeiffer said on Instagram, "Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio. A life cut entirely too short."

Fellow rapper LL Cool J tweeted, "Rest in power my brother @Coolio. Love & Respect."

Life and music career

Coolio won a Grammy in 1996 for best solo rap performance for "Gangsta's Paradise," from the soundtrack of the film Dangerous Minds. The song sampled Stevie Wonder's 1976 song "Pastime Paradise" and received considerable play on MTV.

During the same year, he was also involved in a feud between the hip-hop communities on the East and West coasts of the United States that led to the deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. 

Coolio did not get too involved with the conflict. "I'd like to claim this Grammy on behalf of the whole hip-hop nation, West Coast, East Coast, and worldwide. United we stand, divided we fall," he said in his Grammy acceptance speech. 

He started rapping at 15 and knew by 18 it was what he wanted to do with his life, he had revealed in interviews. He also went to community college, and worked as a volunteer firefighter and in airport security before focusing on his hip-hop career full-time.

His debut album "It Takes a Thief" was released in 1994. Its opening track, "Fantastic Voyage," reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

His career album sales totaled 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand streams of his songs, according to Luminate. He was nominated for six Grammys overall.

Coolio also gave his voice for an episode of the animated show Gravity Falls and provided the theme music for the Nickelodeon sitcom Kenan & Kel.

Personal life

Coolio was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000, with whom he had four children.

He also had occasional legal troubles. In 1998 he was convicted of punching a boutique shop owner in Stuttgart, Germany. He was sentenced to six months probation and fined $30,000.

tg/jsi (AFP, AP)