How Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise Became One Of The Biggest Hip-Hop Hits Ever | Music

More than 1 billion streams on Spotify, just as many viewers on YouTube andmore than five million copies of a single sold: Gangsta ‘s Paradise canrightly be called one of the greatest hip-hop songs in history. With the deathof Coolio, the rapper who made the song in 1995, the artist and the song aretrending again 27 years later.

By Lara Zevenberg

The music scene of the 1990s was heavily influenced by rappers such as 2Pacand Notorious BIG. The influences of Coolio and his colleagues can still beheard in music that comes out now. Coolio’s biggest hit has been influenced bya soul and R&B legend. Gangsta ‘s Paradise uses parts of the melody andlyrics of Stevie Wonders Pasttime Paradise from 1976.

Gangsta ‘s Paradise _was written by Coolio, LV and producer Doug Rasheed forthe film’s soundtrack _Dangerous Minds. In the 1995 film, Michelle Pfeifferplays a teacher who goes to work at a high school in a troubled Californianeighborhood. Coolio was looking for a song that would represent the strugglesof children from a neighborhood where economic problems and racism play amajor role and came across the demo by singer LV

Stevie Wonder didn’t immediately give the green light

“It’s like Gangsta ‘s Paradise _there had to come. That it wanted to live,that it wanted to be born. And that I just had to get the message across,”Coolio later said about the writing process. He freestyled the first lines ofthe song, after which he finished the song in one session. _Gangsta ‘sParadise not without a struggle: Stevie Wonder still had to give approval.

The singer was not happy when he heard the first version. Wonder is not a fanof swearing and Coolio had quite a few swear words in that first version.”When Stevie Wonder heard it, he said there’s no chance I’ll have my song usedin a gangster song,” Coolio said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

At the request of Stevie Wonder, the rapper rewrote the song. “He didn’t likesome of the more obscene words I used. I used the N-word and in two places itsaid something like ‘ fucked in the ass ‘. If I didn’t change that, hewouldn’t put his signature. So I changed that. And once he heard the newversion, he loved it.”

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Number 1 hit in fourteen countries

And Stevie Wonder wasn’t alone. Coolio scored a number 1 hit in fourteencountries, including the Netherlands. In Australia, the song was at number 1on the charts for fourteen weeks, a record. It wasn’t until 22 years laterthat that record was broken by Ed Sheerans Shape of You.

The rapper was showered with awards. He won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Soloand an MTV Video Music Award for the clip accompanying the song. In 2019,_Gangsta ‘s Paradise _Named one of the top 20 songs of the 1990s by Billboard.

“You know what _Gangsta ‘s Paradise _has done, other than that it sold well?It gave me a place in the world. It gave me the guarantee that I could tourwell into my sixties, if I wanted to. It’s been really good for me and it’staken me to places that most rappers, no matter how big they get, will nevergo. You won’t be seeing Fetty Wap of Future in Pakistan or Uzbekistan anytimesoon, are you?”

Coolio was born twenty years after the release of Gangsta ‘s Paradise stillreminded daily of its success. “I still have people who approach me on thestreet and tell me that it has helped them through difficult times. That ithas changed their lives. That is why I see the number as a gift. It hasnothing to do with me, but with the person who is listening to it at the time.It has to do with all people, everywhere.”