Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on August 1, 1963, rapper grew up in Compton, California., and served as a volunteer firefighter before moving on to a full-time music career. His time with a fire team in the San José area was “a way to clean up,” he hears. he told the Los Angeles Times in 1994.
“In firefighting training it was the discipline I needed. We ran every day. He wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing the things that he used to do,” Coolio told the newspaper.
His big break would come that year with “Fantastic Voyage,” followed by “Gangsta’s Paradise,” a No. 1 hit single that was featured in the 1995 movie “Dangerous Minds,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The song eventually earned Coolio a Grammy in 1996 and catapulted him to the top of hip-hop.
The rapper’s long career included hits like “CU When U Get There” and “1,2,3,4 (Sumpin’ New)”, collaborations with other artists and even a cooking series.
As news of his death spread, star-studded tributes began pouring in.
“This is sad news,” fellow rapper Ice Cube wrote on Twitter. “I am a first-hand witness of this man’s grind to the top of the industry. May he rest in peace.”
Pfeiffer credited “Gangsta’s Paradise”, which he called “a brilliant song”, for making “Dangerous Minds” a smash hit in 1995.
“I remember he was nothing but friendly. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song,” she wrote. On Instagram. “Sending love and light to your family.”