Coolio, the Compton-raised rapper who achieved international fame with the 1990s Grammy-winning single “Gangsta’s Paradise,” has died in Los Angeles at age 59.
The rapper’s manager told TMZ.com that Coolio–whose real name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr–collapsed in a bathroom at a friend’s house on Wednesday. When he didn’t come out of the bathroom, the friend went inside and found the rapper on the floor.
According to the website, paramedics were called but were unable to revive him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Capt. Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed to CNN that firefighters and paramedics responded to a call on the 2900 block of South Chesapeake Ave. at 4 p.m. for reports of a medical emergency. Firefighters found an unresponsive male and performed “resuscitation efforts for approximately 45 minutes.”
The patient “was determined dead just before 5 p.m Scott said.
“We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon,” a statement provided to CNN from Coolio’s talent manager Sheila Finegan said.
Friends from the entertainment industry and sports offered condolences upon hearing of Coolio’s death.
Actor Lou Diamond Phillips recounted some memories with the artist.
“I am absolutely stunned. Coolio was a friend and one of the warmest, funniest people I’ve ever met. We spent an amazing time together making Red Water in Capetown and we loved going head to head in the kitchen. He was one of a kind. Epic, Legendary and I’ll miss him,” Phillips said in a tweet.
Former NBA player Matt Bonner recalled spending time with Coolio, saying in a Twitter post the rapper was a “huge hoops fan–we hosted him at a game a few years back–biggest crowd of all-time at a Spurs Overtime concert.”
Rapper and actor Ice Cube said on Twitter, “This is sad news. I witnessed first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace, @Coolio.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic tweeted “RIP Coolio” along with a picture of the two men hugging.
Coolio and Yankovic did not always have a friendly relationship. Coolio had said in an interview at the time it was released that he wasn’t cool with Yankovic’s 1996 “Gangsta’s Paradise” parody, “Amish Paradise.” But the two later made peace, National Public Radio reported.
Born in Pennsylvania on Aug. 1, 1963, but raised in Compton, Coolio sold more than 17 million records during his career, powered largely by the 1995 smash “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was featured in the film “Dangerous Minds.” The song earned him a Grammy for best solo rap performance and was nominated for song of the year.
In July 2022, the song reached a milestone 1 billion views on YouTube.
“It’s one of those kinds of songs that transcends generations,” CNN reported he said in a recent interview. “I didn’t use any trendy words … I think it made it timeless.”
Before his music career took off, he went to community college. He worked as a volunteer firefighter and in airport security before putting his full attention into a hip-hop music career.
He gained fame first in the underground rap scene in the 1980s and his song “Fantastic Voyage” earned him attention in the music industry. He earned six Emmy Award nominations during his music career.
According to his official website, Coolio’s music was also featured in films including “Space Jam,” “Clueless,” “The Big Payback” and “Half-Baked.” He also wrote the theme song for the Nickelodeon series “Kenan & Kel.” During his career, he collected an American Music Award, three MTV Music Video awards, two Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, two Billboard Music and a World Music award.
As an actor and portraying himself, he appeared in a variety of films and television shows over the years, including “Martin,” “The Nanny” and “Charmed.” He later appeared on reality shows including “Celebrity Big Brother” and “Ultimate Big Brother,” and his talents as a chef led him to
appear on the reality TV show “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.”
In 2009, he released his own cookbook, “Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price,” dubbing himself a “ghetto gourmet.” He also appeared in a web series titled “Cookin’ with Coolio.”
He had a show on Oxygen, “Coolio Rules,” in 2008.
He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They had four children together. Details regarding a memorial service were not available at press time.