The cause of death has not yet been disclosed but he was found dead at a friend’s house in Los Angeles, his manager Jarez Posey told TMZ, Rolling Stone and other outlets.
The rapper, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr, had been part of the L.A. rap scene since the ‘80s but it would be his 1995 hit ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ that would see his name etched into rap history, with the track reaching and maintaining a number one spot on the US Billboard Charts for three weeks, and also earning Coolio a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance.
Instantly recognisable, the track samples Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song ‘Pastime Paradise’ and was the soundtrack of the film Dangerous Minds, Michelle Pfeiffer.
What’s more, showing its credentials as a timeless classic — not least with its eerie lyrical opening (“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/ I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left”) — the song had reached one billion views on YouTube earlier this year.
However, Coolio had plenty of other successes too and will be remembered as much more than a mere one-hit wonder by those in the scene and beyond.
His career had in fact begun to take off a year earlier, in 1994, after the release of his debut, It Takes A Thief. The album’s opener ‘Fantastic Voyage’, for instance, had reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
And the rapper was nominated for five other Grammys in his career, too.
Rest in Paradise Homie…… 💔 https://t.co/0o7cPV5EqR
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) September 29, 2022
It had been a long road and a show of perseverance for him to reach the stage he did. Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, in 1963, a young Ivey Jr moved to Compton, California, where he went to community college. From there, he would work as a volunteer firefighter and in airport security before devoting himself fully to hip-hop.
“We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon,” Sheila Finegan, his manager at Trinity Artists International, said in a statement to Variety. “He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly.”
“Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing. Please have Coolio’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”
Further tributes from people in the industry have flooded in, too. Ice Cube, for instance, wrote on Twitter: “Rest in Paradise Homie…… ”.
Snoop Dogg, meanwhile, referenced Coolio’s best-known hit in his own tribute, saying simply: “Gangstas paradise. R I P.”