Born artist Leon Ivey Jr. August 8, in Moneson, PA. On January 1, 1963, the rapper grew up in Compton, California, and worked as a volunteer firefighter before turning to a full-time music career. He told the Los Angeles Times in 1994 that his work with the San Jose-area fire brigade was “a way to clean up.”
“In fire training, discipline is all I need. We run every day. I don’t drink, smoke or do what I usually do,” Culio told the paper.
His big break that year would be “Fantastic Journey,” followed by “Gangster Paradise” — number one. 1 single from the 1995 movie “Dangerous Minds” starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The song eventually won Coolio a Grammy in 1996 and propelled him into the top ranks of hip-hop.
The rapper’s long career has included hits with other artists like “CU When U Get There” and “1,2,3,4 (Sumpin’ New)” and even a cooking series.
As news of his passing spread, star-studded tributes began pouring in.
“This is sad news,” rapper Ice Cube said in a statement. Twitter. “I have witnessed this man’s path to the top of the industry. Rest in peace.”
Pfeiffer praised “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which she called “a wonderful song” for its success in turning “Dangerous Minds” into a smash box in 1995.
“I remember him just being amiable. 30 years later, I still get chills when I hear this song,” she wrote on Instagram. “Send love and light to his family.”