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Coolio, Grammy-winning rapper, dead at 59

The Grammy-winning rapper, producer, and actor Coolio has passed away. He was best known for his 1995 single “Gangsta’s Paradise.” He was 59.

Jarel Posey, the rapper’s longtime manager, confirmed the news, adding that Coolio passed away on Wednesday afternoon about 5 p.m. PT. TMZ claims that Coolio was discovered at a friend’s home.

In the 1990s, Coolio became well-known in the Los Angeles rap scene after penning the song “Gangsta’s Paradise” for the Michelle Pfeiffer-starring movie “Dangerous Minds” in 1995.

This was his big break. It soon rose to prominence as one of the most well-known rap songs of all time, spending three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and finishing 1995 as the top single in the United States.

Coolio won the Grammy Award for best rap solo performance in 1996, and “Gangsta’s Paradise” was nominated for record of the year. Weird Al Yankovic quickly parodied the song as “Amish Paradise,” even though Coolio was insistent that he had not given him permission to do so. But according to interviews with Coolio, the two later made up.

Coolio aka Artis Leon Ivey Jr

In 1991, Coolio, then known as Artis Leon Ivey Jr., relocated to Compton, California, where he joined the hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle. Coolio was born on August 1, 1963, in Pennsylvania. A few years later, in 1994, Coolio landed a record deal with Tommy Boy Records and issued his self-titled debut album. It Takes a Thief, which was propelled by its lead single “Fantastic Voyage,” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart and was awarded platinum status.

After “Gangsta’s Paradise” became popular in the middle of the 1990s, Coolio’s celebrity grew even more. Eventually, he recorded “Aw, Here It Goes!” for the theme song of Nickelodeon’s “Kenan & Kel,” which he also appeared in. “C U When U Get There” from his third album, “My Soul,” which was released in 1997, peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although the album was certified platinum, it didn’t have the same impact as his first two albums and ended up being his final album with Tommy Boy.

The following five studio albums by Coolio would follow: “Coolio.com” in 2001, “El Cool Magnifico” in 2002, “The Return of the Gangsta” in 2006, “Steal Hear” in 2008, and “From the Bottom 2 the Top” in 2009.

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