Inside Coolio's rise to fame after Gangsta's Paradise rapper battled his way up from poverty and drug addiction | The Sun

RAPPER Coolio overcame intense battles with poverty and drug addiction during his inspiring rise to fame.

The legendary Gangsta's Paradise rapper faced notable strife and success before he was reportedly discovered dead at 59 by a friend, his longtime manager said Wednesday.

Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr, was born on August 1, 1963, in the South Central area of Compton.

The future rapper started out as a highly intelligent bookish kid until he started searching for ways to better fit in at school.

After his parents divorced when he was 11, he got involved with the Baby Crips and developed menacing behavior to better assert himself, according to a biography by Steve Huey.

Coolio turned to violence, bringing weapons to school, and ruining his once-promising scholastic career.

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When he moved from high school to a local community college, the Compton kid started to perform at rap contests where he gained some notoriety.

It was at these contests that someone called him Coolio Iglesias, and the name stuck.


He became a regular on a Los Angeles radio station and released his first single Watcha Gonna Do.

Sadly, his first taste of fame was short-lived after the rapper fell into a serious drug problem.

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Coolio checked himself into rehab for crack cocaine addiction to straighten himself out and even started working as a firefighter in Northern California, a biography reads.

A year later, he returned to LA where he began to make some of his most notable work.

After making connections and being featured on albums with fellow rappers, Coolio debuted his first album It Takes a Thief in 1994.

The track Fantastic Voyage helped launched the album to a Top Ten spot and past the platinum sales mark.

Coolio was celebrated by critics and listeners for taking a more lighthearted approach to a genre that was dominated by a West Coast gansta sound.


Just a year after gaining some notoriety with his freshman album, Coolio released his most successful song to date Gansta's Paradise.

The rapper shocked fans with a haunting critique of gangster life that demanded a replay on radios across America.

The album Gansta's Paradise, released in 1995, went triple platinum, eventually earning a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance.

However, the success was short-lived as his 1997 third album barely scraped the Top 40 charts and Coolio once again fell into bad habits.


In late 1997, he ran into the law when he and seven friends were arrested for allegedly shoplifting at a German clothing store.

The German government sentenced him to six months of probation and hit him with a $17,000 fine after the event.

The following summer, Coolio was arrested again for driving on the wrong side of the road.

He also was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a small amount of marijuana.

More recently in 2009, the rapper had another 18-month stint in rehab after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

Despite facing setbacks, Coolio became a cultural figure for his musical contributions. He continued to release music and had plenty of television appearances.

Coolio even closed out Riot Music Festival just ten days after his death was announced.


Coolio's longtime manager, Jarez, told TMZ that the rapper was visiting a friend when he died.

He reportedly went to use the restroom and never came out.

The friend eventually went to check on him and found him on the floor.

An official cause of death has not yet been released.

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Coolio is survived by six children and his ex-wife Josefa Salina, who he married in 1996.

The couple divorced four years after tying the knot.

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