Award-winning rapper Coolio, who was among hip-hop’s biggest names during the 1990s with his pop-infused style, died Wednesday afternoon at a friend’s Los Angeles home.
He was reportedly found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of the house.
Stars including Michelle Pfeiffer and Snoop Dogg have been paying tribute to the late rapper. He was 59.
Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr, won a Grammy for the 1995 track Gangsta’s Paradise, which led the soundtrack for Dangerous Minds.
“He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly,” Sheila Finegan, Coolio’s manager, said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in Monessen, Pa., on Aug. 1, 1963, the rapper grew up in Compton, Calif., and served as a volunteer firefighter before pivoting to a full-time music career. His stint with a firefighting crew in the San Jose area was “a way to clean up,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1994.
“In firefighting training was discipline I needed. We ran every day. I wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing the stuff I usually did,” Coolio told the newspaper.
His big break would come that year with “Fantastic Voyage,” followed by “Gangsta’s Paradise” — a No. 1 single that was featured in the 1995 movie “Dangerous Minds,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The song would eventually earn Coolio a Grammy in 1996 and catapult him to hip-hop’s top ranks.
The rapper’s long career included hits like “C U When U Get There” and “1,2,3,4 (Sumpin’ New),” collaborations with other artists and even a cooking series.