Coolio Dies at 59: Social Media Mourns ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ Rapper’s Death

by Alex Falls
Daniel Boczarski / Contributor / Getty

Coolio was among hip-hop’s biggest names in the 1990s with hit songs such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage.” The iconic rapper died on Wednesday at the age of 59.

Coolio’s agent Sheila Finegan confirmed the rapper’s death Wednesday evening. “He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly,” Finegan said in a statement. “Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing.”

Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for the song “Gangsta’s Paradise.” The 1995 hit from the soundtrack of the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds. The song was famously parodied by musical funnyman “Weird” Al Yankovic for his own hit song, “Amish Paradise.” Yankovic posted a brief but touching tribute with a throwback picture of the two.

He was nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late-1980s. His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, It Takes a Thief. The opening track, “Fantastic Voyage,” would reach No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Coolio’s Legacy is Fondly Remembered

Many children of 90s grew up with Coolio in their living rooms. The rapper had a major presence on the kids channel Nickelodeon during the network’s heyday. You might even remember him singing the iconic theme song to Kenan & Kel starring a young Kenan Thompson alongside his friend Kel Mitchell.

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in Monessen, Pennsylvania south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California, where he went to community college. He worked as a volunteer firefighter and in airport security before devoting himself full-time to the hip-hop scene.

The official cause of death is yet to be confirmed. Although TMZ reports first responders suspected a cardiac arrest. Reports also indicated no drugs or paraphernalia were found at the scene.