Los Angeles Coolio, the rapper who was among the biggest names in hip-hop in the 1990s with hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at the age of 59, his manager said.
Collio, whose legal name is Artis Leon Ivy Jr., died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles, veteran manager Jarrese Posey told The Associated Press. The reason was not immediately clear.
Coolio won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 song from the soundtrack to Michelle Pfeiffer’s “Dangerous Minds” sampled from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.”
He was nominated for five more Grammy Awards during his career that began in the late 1980s.
Coolio was born in Monson, Pennsylvania south of Pittsburgh, and 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”. The opening single “Fantastic Voyage” would reach number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” became the number one song, with its dark opening lyrics:
“As I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I look back on my life and realize there isn’t much left, ’cause I’ve been blowing up and laughing ‘for so long, my mom thinks my mind is gone.'”
Social media sparked reactions to the unexpected death.
“This is sad news,” Ice Cube He said on Twitter. “I witness myself grinding this man to the top of the industry. Rest in peace, Coolio.”
“My brother has a peaceful journey,” Questlove tweet.
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