Coolio, rapper and producer, dead at 59, according to his manager

Coolio performs on a red-lit stage.
Rapper Coolio performs live on stage at Paradiso in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 17th January by Frans Schellekens/Redferns
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  • The rapper Coolio died on Wednesday at the age of 59, his representative told Insider.

  • He came to prominence on the LA rap scene in the 1980s and 90s.

  • Coolio won a Grammy in 1996 for his song "Gangsta's Paradise."

Coolio, the Grammy-award winning rapper best known for his number one single "Gangsta's Paradise," is dead at 59, his representative confirmed to Insider.

The rapper, whose real name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., came to prominence on the LA rap scene in the late 1980s but skyrocketed to fame in the mid-90s when "Gangsta's Paradise" was used for the 1995 film "Dangerous Minds" starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

"We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon," according to a statement from Sheila Finegan, a representative for Coolio. "He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly."

"Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing," the statement continued. "Please have Coolio's loved ones in your thoughts and prayers."

TMZ was the first to report his death. His manager, Jarez Posey later confirmed the rapper's death to Rolling Stone, but no cause of death was offered.

Coolio achieved success with albums such as "It Takes a Thief," "Gangsta's Paradise," and "My Soul." Among his most popular singles were "Fantastic Voyage" and "C U When U Get There."

He released eight solo albums between his 1994 debut album "It Takes a Thief," and his final studio album in 2009. The cultural impact of his music left an imprint beyond just the airwaves as well.

His hit single off of his debut album, "Fantastic Voyage" sampled the song by the same name by Funk group Lakeside, propelling him into the Los Angeles rap scene that he had moved to from his birthplace of Pennsylvania, intially to enroll at Compton Community college before embarking on a successful career. Eventually, "Fantastic Voyage" made it to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in  1994.

Over the coming years, Coolio's trademark humorous, reflective rap style gained even more popularity and in 1996 he won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance for the song "Gangsta's paradise."

In the same year, he had a different kind of crossover hit, scoring "Aw, Here It Goes (Kenan and Kel Show Theme Song)" for the children's Nickolodeon show, the "Kenan and Kel Show," a beloved show featuring then-teenage actors Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell.

He would also go on to participate in the first hip-hop benefit project for HIV/AIDS with the Red Hot Foundation in 1996, launching an album with peers to raise money and awareness about the disease in Black communities.

Throughout his life, he also advocated for those who suffer from respiratory diseases, having had asthma his entire life. In 2016, he said he "could have died," after needing to borrow an inhaler from an audience member during a concert because he suffered an asthma attack.

In his later years, Coolio continued to release independent music and explored the culinary arts, launching a web series called "Cookin' with Coolio," as well as an accompanying cookbook.

He performed at Chicago's Riot Fest less than two weeks before his death and was scheduled to perform again in Germany this coming weekend.

Read the original article on Insider