A Hip-Hop Legend Is Dead at 59

'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio dies in Los Angeles
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2022 9:25 PM CDT
Updated Sep 29, 2022 12:01 AM CDT

The rapper Coolio, one of the biggest hip-hop stars of the 1990s, has died at age 59, reports the AP. The rapper—real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr.—is best known for his monster hit "Gangsta's Paradise" of 1995, featured in the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds. Coolio was pronounced dead at the scene at a friend's home in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. No cause of death was immediately released, but TMZ reports that police found no drugs or drug paraphernalia at the scene, and no foul play is suspected. An autopsy is pending.

"Gangsta's Paradise" was No. 1 for three weeks and ended 1995 as the top single of the year, per Variety, which calls it "one of the most popular rap songs of all time." Coolio won the Grammy for best rap solo performance for the record. He was, however, no one-hit wonder. The Pennsylvania native—he would later settle in Compton, California—saw his first success with the album It Takes a Thief on Tommy Boy Records. The song "Fantastic Voyage" off that album reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts. He released several more studio albums that did well, though not as well as his first efforts. Another big song was "C U When U Get There" from 1997.

Coolio also appeared in several films and TV shows, including Martin, a Dangerous Minds television spinoff, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Batman & Robin, The Nanny, Charmed, Futurama, Gravity Falls, as well as reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Coolio's Rules, per People. The AP takes note of the dark opening lyrics of "Gangsta's Paradise:" “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left, ‘cause I’ve been blastin’ and laughin’ so long, that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone.” (More Coolio stories.)

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