Coolio’s death shocks longtime celebrity friends, fans of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ singer

Fans and industry colleagues alike were stunned to learn that Coolio died Wednesday at the age of 59. The rapper died of suspected cardiac arrest. Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on August 1, 1963 in Pennsylvania, Coolio later moved to Compton, California, where he signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1994 and released his debut album “It Takes a Thief.” Coolio shot to fame in 1995 after releasing “Gangsta’s Paradise,” a song featured in “Dangerous Minds” and winner of the 1996 Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.

The mid-90s saw Coolio’s success grow after “Gangsta’s Paradise”, and he eventually recorded “Aw, Here It Goes!” for Nickelodeon Kenan and Kel. He also appeared in the series. In 1997, he released his third album, My soulwhich included the single “CU When U Get There”, which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The platinum record was his last with Tommy Boy, but Coolio released five more studio albums: 2001’s Coolio.com2002 El Cool Magnifico2006 The Return of the Gangster2008 steal hearand 2009 From the bottom 2 the top. His death prompted an onslaught of sympathy and condolences from celebrity fans, collaborators and those who knew best. Read on for some of the early answers.

‘One of the nicest guys’

’90s rapper MC Hammer tweeted his condolences, “One of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. Good people. RIP Coolio.”

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‘A gift to make street tales mainstream’

Rap legend Biz Markie posted a fitting tribute to the late artist. “RIP Coolio, whose single massive hit eclipsed a formidable series of classic West Coast bangers. An original member of the Maad Circle & Compton rep – with undeniable star quality, humor, charisma and a gift for make street tales mainstream without sanitizing them.”

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“I’ve witnessed this man’s rise to the top first hand”

Actor and industry peer Ice Cube tweeted, “Sad news. Witnessed this man’s rise to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace @Coolio.”

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James C. Tibbs