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US rapper and former Big Brother star Coolio ‘dead at age 59’

Rapper Coolio, responsible for 1990s hit song Gangsta’s Paradise, has reportedly died aged 59 (Yui Mok/PA)
Rapper Coolio, responsible for 1990s hit song Gangsta’s Paradise, has reportedly died aged 59 (Yui Mok/PA)

Rapper Coolio, responsible for 1990s hit song Gangsta’s Paradise, has reportedly died aged 59.

The US rapper, whose real name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr, died on Wednesday, his manager confirmed to multiple US outlets.

He was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house in Los Angeles, according to TMZ.

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.

Coolio Kensington Hilton
The US rapper, real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, died on Wednesday, his manager confirmed to multiple US outlets (Yui Mok/PA)

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”.