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Grammy-winning Gangsta’s Paradise rapper Coolio dies age 59

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A “heartbroken” Michelle Pfeiffer has led tributes for American rapper Coolio, one of the biggest names in hip hop in the 90s, who has died age 59.

Coolio’s hits included Gangsta’s Paradise which was the theme song for the movie Dangerous Minds, starring Pfeiffer.

Coolio, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., died at the Los Angeles home of a friend, confirmed longtime manager Jarez Posey. The cause was not immediately clear.


Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for Gangsta’s Paradise, the 1995 hit from the soundtrack 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.

“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio. A life cut entirely too short,” wrote Pfeiffer on Instagram.

“As some of you may know I was lucky enough to work with him on Dangerous Minds in 1995.

“I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song.

“Sending love and light to his family. Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr.”

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.

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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.

Michelle Pfeiffer played a teacher on the 1990s movie Dangerous Minds. Photo: Getty

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.”

-with AAP

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