'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio dies at 59

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Coolio, the rapper who was among the biggest names in 1990s hip-hop with hits like "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage," died Wednesday at age 59, his manager said.

Coolio died at a friend's home in Los Angeles, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.

Coolio won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance for "Gangsta's Paradise," the 1995 hit from the soundtrack to Michelle Pfeiffer's film "Dangerous Minds" that featured a sample of Stevie Wonder's 1976 song "Pastime." Paradise" and played constantly on MTV.

The Grammy, and the height of its popularity, came in 1996, in the midst of a fierce dispute between the hip-hop communities of both coasts, which would soon end with the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG.

Coolio managed to stay mostly above the conflict.

“I would like to claim this Grammy on behalf of the entire nation of hip-hop, the West Coast, the East Coast and around the world, 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 teenager in Northern California, where his mother sent him because she felt the city was too dangerous.

He said in interviews that he started rapping at 15 and knew that at 18 it was what he wanted to do with his life, but he would go to community college and work as a volunteer firefighter and airport security before dedicating himself full time to the hip. -jump scene

His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, "It Takes a Thief." His opening song, "Fantastic Voyage", would reach number 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 look at my life and realize there isn't much left, because I've been snapping and laughing so long, even my mom thinks my mind is gone."

Social networks were filled with reactions to the unexpected death.

"This is sad news," Ice Cube said. On twitter . “I am a first-hand witness of this man's grind to the top of the industry. Rest in peace @Coolio."

“Weird Al” Yankovic tweeted “RIP Coolio” along with a photo of the two men embracing.

Coolio had said in an interview at the time it was released that he disagreed with Yankovic's 1996 "Gangsta's Paradise" parody, "Amish Paradise." But the two later made peace.

The rapper would never have a song as big as "Gangsta's Paradise" again, but he had subsequent hits with 1996's "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" and "CU When U Get There."

His career album sales totaled 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand streams of his songs, according to Luminate. He would be nominated for six Grammy Awards in total.

And with his distinctive personality, he would become a cultural staple, acting on occasion, starring in a parenting reality show called "Coolio's Rules," providing his voice for an episode of the animated show "Gravity Falls," and providing the theme song for Nickelodeon. sitcom "Kenan and Kel."

He had occasional legal problems, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, where a boutique owner said he beat her when she tried to stop her from taking unpaid merchandise. He was sentenced to six months probation and fined $30,000.

He was married to Josefa Salinas from 1996 to 2000. They had four children together.

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