Speed Reads

rest in peace

Rapper Coolio dies at 59

Coolio, the Grammy Award-winning rapper whose 1995 hit "Gangsta's Paradise" became one of the genre's most successful songs of all time, died on Wednesday. He was 59.

His manager, Jarel Posey, confirmed his death to Variety.

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in Pennsylvania, Coolio later moved to Compton, California, where he was part of the hip hop group WC and the Maad Circle. He gained worldwide fame in 1994 with "Fantastic Voyage," the lead single from his debut solo album It Takes a Thief. His biggest hit, "Gangsta's Paradise," came a year later. It appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Dangerous Minds, and the film's star, Michelle Pfeiffer, had a cameo alongside Coolio and singer L.V. in the song's music video.

"Gangsta's Paradise" stayed at the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart for three weeks and was the No. 1 single in the United States for 1995. In 1996, "Gangsta's Paradise" was nominated for two awards at the Grammys, with Coolio winning Best Rap Solo Performance. The song gained further attention when Weird Al Yankovic used it as the inspiration for his parody "Amish Paradise."

Coolio later had success as an actor, appearing in several movies and television shows, including Martin, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Nanny, Charmed, Futurama, and Gravity Falls. He was also a contestant on two reality shows, Celebrity Big Brother and Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, where he came in second place. Coolio is survived by six children.