Rapper Coolio hailed as a ‘gifted artiste’
Tributes have continued to pour in for the late rap legend Coolio.
The Gangsta’s Paradise hitmaker’s long-time manager, Jarez Posey, confirmed that the rap legend, who was 59, was found dead at a friend’s house in Los Angeles on Wednesday after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest.
A number of his fellow rappers have paid their respects.
MC Hammer wrote: “One of the nicest dudes I’ve known. Good people. R.I.P. Coolio.”
Snoop Dogg wrote: “Gangstas paradise. R. I. P. . @coolio.”
Questlove said: “Peaceful Journey Brother. #Coolio.”
‘Bad Boys’ actor Martin Lawrence expressed sympathy with Coolio’s family. “My deepest condolences and prayers go out to the family of @Coolio #rip,” wrote Lawrence.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who starred in the 1995 film Dangerous Minds, which featured Gangsta’s Paradise, led tributes and said she has been left “heartbroken” by his untimely death. She wrote: “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio. A life cut entirely too short.”
Vanilla Ice had earlier written: “I’m freaking out I just heard my good friend Coolio passed away.”
Paramedics were called to the scene at around 4 p.m., and Coolio was pronounced dead a little while after they arrived.
No drugs or drug paraphernalia were found by police, according to TMZ’s sources.
An autopsy will need to be carried out to establish the cause of death, however, his manager said the paramedics who attended the scene suspected he suffered cardiac arrest in his friend’s bathroom.
An investigation into his death has been opened, however, there are no signs of foul play.
Coolio won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance for Gangsta’s Paradise in 1996 amid a fierce feud between the hip-hop communities of the two coasts, which would take the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. soon after.
He managed to stay mostly above 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 from the stage as he accepted the award.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., in Monessen, Pennsylvania south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California. He spent some time as a teen in Northern California, where his mother sent him because she felt the city was too dangerous.
HIP-HOP FULL TIME
He said in interviews that he started rapping at 15 and knew by 18 it was what he wanted to do with his life but would go to community college and work 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. Its opening track, Fantastic Voyage, would reach No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, Gangsta’s Paradise would become a No. 1 single, with its dark opening lyrics:
“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left, ‘cause I’ve been blastin’ and laughin’ so long that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone.”
The rapper would never again have a song nearly as big as Gangsta’s Paradise but had subsequent hits with 1996’s 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New) (1996), and 1997’s C U When U Get There.
His career album sales totalled 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand streams of his songs, according to Luminate. He would be nominated for six Grammys overall.
And with his distinctive person, he would become a cultural staple, acting occasionally, starring in a reality show about parenting called Coolio’s Rules, providing a voice for an episode of the animated show Gravity Falls, and providing the theme music for the Nickelodeon sitcom Kenan & Kel.
He had occasional legal troubles, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, where a boutique shop owner said he punched her when she tried to stop him from taking merchandise without paying. He was sentenced to six months probation and fined US$30,000.
He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They had four children together.