Who is Rapper Coolio?
Coolio, the rapper who was one of hip-biggest hop’s stars in the 1990s with singles including “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at the age of 59, according to his management.
Coolio died at the house of a friend in Los Angeles, according to longtime manager Jarez Posey. The reason was not immediately apparent.
Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” a 1995 hit from the soundtrack of Michelle Pfeiffer’s film “Dangerous Minds” that sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” and was often aired on MTV.
The Grammy, and the pinnacle of his notoriety, arrived in 1996, during a bitter war between the two coasts’ hip-hop communities, which would soon cost the lives of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.
“I’d want to claim this Grammy on behalf of the whole hip-hop country, West Coast, East Coast, and global,” he declared from the stage as he took the trophy.
Coolio was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, and later relocated to Compton, California. His mother relocated him to Northern California as an adolescent because she thought the city was too unsafe.
In interviews, he stated that he began rapping at the age of 15 and knew by the age of 18 that it was what he wanted to do with his life, although he would attend community college and work as a volunteer fireman and in airport security before committing himself full-time to the hip-hop scene.
His career took off with the publication of his debut album, “It Takes a Thief,” on Tommy Boy Records in 1994. Its first single, “Fantastic Voyage,” would peak at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
With its ominous beginning lyrics, “Gangsta’s Paradise” will become a No. 1 song a year later:
“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I look back on my life and realize there’s not much left, ’cause I’ve been blastin’ and laughing for so long, that my mother believes my mind is gone.”
“This is sad news,” Ice Cube said on Twitter. “I witness first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace, @Coolio.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic posted a photo of the two men cuddling and the caption “RIP Coolio.”
Coolio stated in an interview at the time that he was not pleased with Yankovic’s 1996 “Gangsta’s Paradise” spoof, “Amish Paradise.” However, the two later reconciled.
The rapper would never have another song as large as “Gangsta’s Paradise,” but he did have following successes with “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” (1996) and “C U When U Get There” (1997).
According to Luminate, his lifetime album sales were 4.8 million, with 978 million on-demand plays of his tracks. He’d be nominated for six Grammys in all.
And with his distinct demeanor, he would become a cultural classic, occasionally acting, appearing in the parenting reality program “Coolio’s Rules,” supplying a voice for an episode of the cartoon show “Gravity Falls,” and delivering the theme song for the Nickelodeon sitcom “Kenan & Kel.”
He had a few run-ins with the law, including a 1998 conviction in Stuttgart, Germany, for punching a boutique shop owner when she tried to stop him from removing products without paying. He received six months probation and a $30,000 fine.
From 1996 until 2000, he was married to Josefa Salinas. They shared four children.