US Rapper Coolio's cause of death confirmed as fentanyl overdose as family vow to honour star's memory

6 April 2023, 23:16

US rapper Coolio's cause of death has been revealed as a fentanyl overdose as his family vow to celebrate the musician's memory.
US rapper Coolio's cause of death has been revealed as a fentanyl overdose as his family vow to celebrate the musician's memory. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

US rapper Coolio's cause of death has been revealed as a fentanyl overdose as his family vow to celebrate the musician's memory.

The rapper, responsible for 1990s hit song Gangsta's Paradise, died in September aged 59.

A family spokesman revealed on Thursday that alongside fentanyl, traces of heroin and methamphetamines were also found in his system.

The US rapper, whose real name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr, was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of a friend's house in Los Angeles, according to reports by TMZ.

According to the rapper's death certificate, other significant conditions include severe asthma, cardiomyopathy and recent use of hallucinatory drug PCP (Phencyclidine).

The rapper was most famous for his hit Gangsta's Paradise
The rapper was most famous for his hit Gangsta's Paradise. Picture: Alamy

Coolio's manager at Trinity Artists International, Sheila Finegan, later confirmed the rapper's death.

She said: "We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon.

"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."

Coolio 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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Michelle Pfeiffer, 64, lead tributes to the rapper, sharing the music video for Coolio's smash hit Gangsta's Paradise, from their iconic film Dangerous Minds and writing: "Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio. A life cut entirely too short".

Snoop Dogg referenced Coolio's hit 1995 song in his own tribute, writing: "Gangstas paradise. R I P."

The rapper shared a picture of the two on Instagram, posing on the set of the music video for their collaborative track Gangsta Walk, released in 2006.

MC Hammer described Coolio as "one of the nicest dudes I've known".

"Good people. RIP Coolio," he wrote, sharing a black and white picture of the rapper.

He later posted a second picture of the pair together, along with Tupac and Snoop Dogg.

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."

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 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.

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.

Among those to respond immediately to the reports was fellow US rapper Vanilla Ice, who said he was "freaking out" after hearing the news.

"I'm freaking out I just heard my good friend Coolio passed away," the rapper, real name Robert Matthew Van Winkle, wrote on Twitter.

In his own online tribute, US rapper LL Cool J wrote: "Rest in power my brother. @Coolio Love and Respect".