Famed rapper Coolio, the prophetic voice of iconic ‘90s anthem ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, has passed away, aged 59.
Coolio was found unresponsive at a friend’s house in Los Angeles on 28 September and pronounced dead at the scene by first responders. At this point, no foul play is suspected, and his manager has released a statement declaring the cause of death “cardiac arrest”.
His death has been received as a tragic loss by the global arts and music community, with tributes rolling in from hip hop and Hollywood heavyweights alike, including Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, MC Hammer, Michelle Pheiffer and Martin Lawrence.
Coolio was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr in Pennsylvania on 1 August 1963. Relocating to Compton, California, Coolio began to establish himself in the bedrock of West Coast hip hop, recording his first single ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’ in 1987.
After joining the group WC and the Maad Circle, Coolio aroused some notoriety with contributions to their 1991 debut album ‘Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed’. In 1994, he released his own debut studio album ‘It Takes A Thief’, turning gangsta rap on its head and positioning him as a defining voice of the era.
But it was 1995’s single ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, featuring L.V. and released in sync with the film ‘Dangerous Minds’ (starring Michelle Pfeiffer), that cemented Coolio’s legacy and confirmed his place in the labyrinthine halls of pop culture greatness.
One of the most successful rap songs of all time, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ topped charts around the world and remains an instantly recognisable classic.
Outside of music, Coolio enjoyed a prolific screen career, appearing in dozens of film and television roles throughout the ‘90s and 2000s.
MADCAP Global Managing Director was lucky enough to have met Coolio, along with L.V. & The Thieves, during the Australian leg of his Gangsta’s Paradise tour in the mid ‘90s.
“He was an incredible man,” Stephen recalls. “Controversial at times, sure, but a man that apologized when he was wrong and that was dedicated to improving possibilities for Black youth.”
Coolio was one of those rare talents whose art could transcend the dividing lines of genre, class and culture. His music mirrored the struggle of daily urban life in a way that resonated with listeners right across the social spectrum.
He is survived by six children – four of whom starred with him in the reality series ‘Coolio’s Rules’ – and a rich catalogue of recorded music, including eight studio albums.
MADCAP Global offers our sincere condolences to Coolio’s family, friends and loved ones, along with our deep respect for his immense artistic contributions.