Rapper Coolio, who achieved mainstream success in the 90s for songs such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died at the age of 59.
Coolio’s agent confirmed the rapper’s death to our sister station KABC-TV. According to the Associated Press, he died at the Los Angeles home of a friend. The cause was not immediately clear.
A police source told KABC=TV a death investigation has been opened, and there are no apparent signs of foul play.
Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr., is best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was featured in the movie “Dangerous Minds” starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
Posey said Coolio died in the afternoon hours local time in Los Angles on Wednesday.
Details on the circumstances were not immediately available.
Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 hit from the soundtrack of the Michelle Pfeiffer film “Dangerous Minds” that sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.”
He was nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late-1980s.
Born 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.
His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, “It Takes a Thief.” It’s 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 not much left, ’cause I’ve been blastin’ and laughin’ so long, that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone.”