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Coolion, "gangster paradise" rapper, dead at 59

Coolio, the rapper known for ’90s hip-hop anthems like “Gangsta’s Paradise,” has died at 59.

Coolio during the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York, USA. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Jeff Kravitz

The cause of death has not yet been confirmed. Coolio’s manager and longtime friend Jarez confirmed the news of his death to CBS News.

The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into the death after he was called to a home in the West Adams neighborhood around 4 p.m. They don’t think there are any signs of foul play.

A representative for Coolio released a statement on the icon’s death, which read:

“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 he will be deeply missed,” said one of the representatives of Coolio. “Thank you to everyone around the world who listened to his music and to everyone who reached out about his passing. Please have Coolio’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in 1963, the Compton-based rapper shot to fame with his 1994 debut album “It Takes a Thief,” which included the hit song “Fantastic Voyage.”

He followed that up with his best-known album, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” in 1995. The album’s title track, bearing the same name, has been considered one of the most successful rap songs of all time, certified triple platinum by the RIAA. The song was featured in the hit feature film “Dangerous Minds”.

The song won Coolio the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1996, as well as the American Music Awards Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist the same year.

Coolio also provided the theme song for the well-known children’s program “Kenan & Kel”, which aired on Nickelodeon from 1996 to 2000.

He continued to produce music until the release of his final studio album in 2009. Since then he has appeared in a number of films and television shows, often as himself.

After news of his death was confirmed, fellow hip-hop icons Ice Cube, LL Cool J and MC Hammer offered their condolences.


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