American rapper Coolio has died, it has been confirmed.
The rapper – real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr. – was born in Pennsylvania, before relocating with his family to Compton, Los Angeles. A juvenile offender, he became a crack addict before a stint as a firefighter helped him to kick the habit, and focus on his life.
Developing as a rapper, initial solo releases were followed by a stint in WC and the Maad Circle, before signing to Tommy Boy Records in 1994. The single ‘Fantastic Voyage’ became an MTV staple, while his album ‘It Takes A Thief’ became a true breakout moment.
The following year Coolio released his single ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, picked for the soundtrack of the hit film Dangerous Minds. A colossal global smash, the track remains a rap staple, a key part of the development of West Coast hip-hop in the 90s.
Remaining incredibly popular, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ is one of only a handful of 90s tracks to chalk up more than one billion views on YouTube.
Reaching unprecedented fame, Coolio made a number of guest appearances on TV, including such varied treats as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Futurama, and Gravity Falls.
Coolio’s studio work dropped off in the 21st century, with his last solo album landing in 2009. Continuing to tour, TMZ reports that Coolio died unexpectedly while at a friend’s house on Wednesday night (September 28th). His manager confirmed the news, with the cause of death yet to be ascertained. He was 59 years old.