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Rapper Coolio dies aged 59: Michelle Pfeiffer, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube among tributes to Gangsta’s Paradise star

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Coolio in Dublin last July. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Coolio in Dublin last July. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Coolio in Dublin last July. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Coolio "touched the world" with his talent and will be "missed profoundly" following his death aged 59, his management have said.

The US rapper, real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, who was responsible for 1990s hit song Gangsta's Paradise, died on Wednesday afternoon.

Coolio's manager at Trinity Artists International, Sheila Finegan, confirmed his death.

"We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon," the agency said in a statement.

"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.

"Please have Coolio's loved ones in your thoughts and prayers."

The rapper was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of a friend's house in Los Angeles, according to US media outlet TMZ.

As well as for his successful music career, Coolio became well known in the UK for his appearances on Channel 4 reality show Big Brother.

The rapper came third in the sixth series of UK Celebrity Big Brother in 2009, losing out to broadcaster Terry Christian, who was the runner up, and presenter and model Ulrika Jonsson, who won.

But along with Jonsson he went on to join the cast of Ultimate Big Brother the following year in 2010, the last series of the show to air on Channel 4.

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The rapper was born in Pennsylvania, but later moved to Compton, California, where he released his first single in 1987.

He recorded Gangsta's Paradise – based on Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song Pastime Paradise - for the 1995 film Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, and it went on to become one of the most successful rap songs of all time.

The track topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and won Coolio the Grammy award for best rap solo performance in 1996.

Pfeiffer said she was "heartbroken" to hear the news of his death, adding that she remembered him as "nothing but gracious" when they worked together.

"Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio," she wrote on Instagram, sharing a clip of the film featuring the track.

"A life cut entirely too short.

"I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song.

"Sending love and light to his family. Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr."

The song was also parodied by US musical comedian Weird Al Yankovic, as Amish Paradise, though at the time it was claimed that Coolio had not given him permission to do so.

However, Coolio stated in interviews that the pair had since made amends.

Yankovic paid his respects to Coolio with a short tribute on social media.

Sharing a picture of the pair embracing, he wrote: "RIP Coolio".

After news of his death broke, officials at Wrigley Field in Chicago played the hit song as well as Coolio's Fantastic Voyage throughout the stadium, as the hometown Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies

Coolio was nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late-1980s.

Heavyweights from the rap world, including Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and MC Hammer, paid their respects to him after the news was shared on social media.

Snoop Dogg wrote online: “Gangstas paradise. R I P.”

Former NWA star Ice Cube said he had witnessed Coolio's "grind to the top of the industry" in his own tribute.

"This is sad news," the rapper and actor wrote on Twitter.

"I witnessed first hand this man's grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace @Coolio."

MC Hammer described Coolio as "one of the nicest dudes I've known" as he shared a picture of the pair together with Tupac and Snoop.

American singer Bret Michaels also posted a photograph with Coolio, writing: “My deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and fans on the loss of @Coolio. Awesome guy who will be missed.”

American musician Terrace Martin wrote: “Coolio. Thank you for taking on my first world tour. Summer of 1999. Rest in love king.”

Rapper Wetto wrote: “Gangsta’s Paradise was the first rap album my dad let me buy. The clean version at Walmart. RIP Coolio.”

Author Wajahat Ali added: “Coolio is dead. I can’t believe I wrote that. Only 59. If you’re Gen X, you know and respect. Gangstas Paradise inshallah.”

Questlove also shared a black and white picture of the rapper on Instagram, writing: “Peaceful journey brother”.

New York rapper Flava Flav of Public Enemy also lamented the loss of Coolio, writing: “Coolio was the West Coast Flavor Flav, He loved telling everyone that. We was supposed to perform together this Tuesday. RIP my friend.”

Ulrika Jonsson, who starred alongside Coolio in both Celebrity Big Brother and Ultimate Big Brother, said the rapper's death at age 59 in the US was a "shock".

"Gosh. That's a shock," the TV presenter, 54, said.

"I spent a fair bit of time with Coolio - he was a misogynist, broke wind a lot; he fancied himself as a cook but my God, we had so many laughs."




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