CNN

Coolio, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper, dead at 59

Sep 29, 2022, 8:00 AM | Updated: Dec 12, 2022, 2:02 pm

Coolio, the '90s rapper who lit up the music charts with hits like "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantas...

Portrait of American rapper, actor and producer Coolio (Artis Ivey), Amsterdam, Netherlands 3rd November 1995. (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

(Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

(CNN) — Coolio, the ’90s rapper who lit up the music charts with hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died, his friend and manager Jarez Posey, told CNN. He was 59.

Posey said Coolio died in the afternoon hours local time in Los Angles on Wednesday.

Details on the circumstances were not immediately available.

Coolio grew up in Compton, California, according to a bio on his official website.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1994, he recalled falling into the drug scene but getting himself out by pursuing a career as a firefighter.

“I wasn’t looking for a career, I was looking for a way to clean up — a way to escape the drug thing,” he told the publication. “It was going to kill me and I knew I had to stop. In firefighting training was discipline I needed. We ran every day. I wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing the stuff I usually did.”

His rap career began in the ’80s and he gained fame in the underground scene.

“Fantastic Voyage” was the first song that really put him on the map.

Arguably his biggest song, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” from the soundtrack to the film “Dangerous Minds,” grew his star power to gigantic proportions. He won a Grammy in 1996 for the song.

In the age of streaming, it has continued to live on. In July 2022, the song reached a milestone one billion views on YouTube.

“It’s one of those kinds of songs that transcends generations,” he said in a recent interview. “I didn’t use any trendy words…I think it made it timeless.”

Over his career, Coolio sold more than 17 million records, according to his website.

Coolio also has a special place in the hearts of some Millennials for his work on the theme song for the popular Nickelodeon TV series “Kenan and Kel” and his contribution to the album “Dexter’s Laboratory: The Hip-Hop Experiment,” which featured songs by various hip-hop artists that were inspired by the Cartoon Network animated series.

In recent years, Coolio enjoyed the perks of being a nostalgic figure, making television appearances on shows like “Celebrity Cook Off” and “Celebrity Chopped.”

He also had a show on Oxygen, “Coolio’s Rules,” that aired 2008.

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Coolio, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper, dead at 59