Perhaps, if the heyday of your life was in the 1990s, you might have encountered a drama film in 1995 produced by now-dormant Disney label Hollywood Pictures. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, “Dangerous Minds” is a loose adaptation of the memoirs of ex-Marine-turned-high school teacher LouAnne Johnson, and her experiences teaching in a low-income and racially-tense setting. If you know nothing else about this movie, you probably at least heard its theme song “Gangsta’s Paradise”. This rap anthem, vibrant in spite of its bleak subject, was performed by rapper Artis Leon Arvey Jr., better known as Coolio. He has just passed away.
Entertainment Weekly reports to us that recording artist Coolio has died Wednesday, September 28. He was 59 years old. The news was broken by his manager Jarez Posey, who related that Coolio was found unresponsive by responding paramedics at the bathroom of a friend’s house in Los Angeles. Although an official cause of death has yet to be revealed, Posey opines that it may have been a cardiac arrest and that no foul play was suspected. Another manager of Coolio’s for Trinity Artists International released a statement confirming the death.
“We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon,” Sheila Finegan of TAI announced. “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.”
Born 1963, Coolio joined the rap scene in the 1980s, eventually becoming a prominent voice in the gangsta rap subgenre. He first drew the spotlight in 1994 with the album “It Takes a Thief”, headlined by the single “Fantastic Voyage”. Only a year later, his song “Gangsta’s Paradise” spent three weeks atop the Billboard Top 100, eventually eclipsing the movie it served as theme to. Other notable soundtrack contributions during 1996 were “Aw, Here It Goes” for Nickelodeon sitcom “Kenan and Kel” and “Hit ‘Em High” (alongside B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Method Man and LL Cool J) for Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam” starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny.
Coolio also became a reality TV regular. His participation in “Celebrity Big Brother 6” (UK, 2009) revived popularity for “Gangsta’s Paradise” there, like its global peak in the US, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. He is survived by six children from a 1996 marriage, which ended 2000 in divorce.
Image courtesy of NY Times