American rapper Coolio, author of the 1995 hit, Gangsta’s Paradisedied Wednesday, September 28 in Los Angeles (California) at the age of 59 for reasons still unknown. The artist was found unconscious in the bathroom of a friend he had visited. The emergency services were unable to revive him and the police have, for the moment, ruled out the criminal trail. The autopsy is in progress.
Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Evy Jr, had risen to fame with a dark title, evoking the life of gangsters and sampling the song by Stevie Wonder Pastime Paradise (1976) but most of his best known raps, Fantastic Voyage, 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’New), Too Hot, C You When You Get There were festive and sunny.
Whereas Gangsta Paradise is found in 1995 on the soundtrack of the film rebel spirits by John N. Smith where the actress Michelle Pfeiffer plays a teacher struggling with student gang members, American rap is then in the midst of an internal war and sees rappers from the west coast of the United States and those from the East Coast. What was initially an artistic rivalry will end with the assassinations of its two most famous and virulent representatives, Tupac and Biggie.
Coolio, then a star on the West Coast, but signed to the pioneering New York label Tommy Boy, will be able to place himself above the fray. So when a Grammy Award for best solo rap performance was presented to him in 1996, he declared: “I would like to accept this award on behalf of the entire hip-hop nation: West Coast, East Coast, the world. United we will stand, divided we will fall. » Coolio was not a gangster rapper even if like all the young blacks who grew up in Compton, the cradle of gangsta rap, he had frequented one of the gangs of the time, the Crips. Born on 1er August 1963, in Monessen, Pennsylvania, Artis Leon Evy Jr had moved to this town located south of the Los Angeles metropolitan area to follow his parents, a carpenter for the father and a factory worker for the mother.
A crooner’s cooing voice
In the 1970s, California was still perceived as a state where work abounded. Compton, which welcomes African-American families from the south and east of the United States, is unfortunately impoverished with the arrival of gangs and the crack epidemic – a residue of cocaine obtained by a simple operation in the kitchen. To impress his new friends, Artis brings guns to school, is convicted of theft, and his mother quickly sends him to continue his schooling in the quieter and still spared from the gangs northern Golden State. The young man will return to Compton to enroll at the local university, Compton Community College. This time, it’s rap that diverts him from his studies.
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