**FILE** Coolio (Courtesy photo)
**FILE** Coolio (Courtesy photo)

Coolio, whose signature song “Gangsta’s Paradise” played a vital role in securing hip-hop as the popular music of choice, has died at age 59.

The artist reportedly died Wednesday on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house. While paramedics suspect Coolio succumbed to cardiac arrest, the medical examiner hasn’t released an official cause of death.

Born on Aug. 1, 1963, in Compton, California, the rapper, whose real name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., enjoyed six top Billboard hits, including 1995’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which reached 1 billion streams on Spotify earlier this year.

Spending three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and 11 straight weeks on the Hot Rap Songs list, “Gangsta’s Paradise” earned Coolio a Grammy and a Billboard Music Award.

The hit single earned rankings among Billboard’s 100 Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs.

In addition to music, Coolio enjoyed a successful television career. He appeared on shows like “Black Jesus,” “All That,” “The Nanny,” and “Fear Factor.”

“Peaceful Journey, Brother,” fellow hip-hop artist Questlove tweeted.

“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist Coolio,” actress Michelle Pfeiffer wrote on Instagram while sharing a clip from the famous music video, in which she sits across the table from Coolio.

“A life cut entirely too short. I remember him being nothing but gracious,” Pfeiffer said.

Tributes also poured in from stars like Snoop Dogg, who posted a picture of him and Coolio from an earlier music video.

MC Hammer called Coolio one of the nicest individuals he’d known while sharing a photo of the two of them with fellow rappers Snoop and the late Tupac Shakur.

“This is sad news,” Ice Cube shared. “I witnessed firsthand this man’s grind to the top of the industry.”

Los Angeles-based artist Teddi Gold, who worked with Coolio, also mourned the icon.

“I have an immense amount of gratitude and love for Coolio,” Gold wrote in a statement. “His musicianship, big heart, sense of humor, and loyalty to his friends and family were the light he shared with the world.

“As somebody whose music I grew up listening to, the opportunity Coolio gave me to record and perform with him was a life-changing experience I will carry with me forever. I send every ounce of love I have to his family and friends at this time.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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