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Coolio's music career: »Gangsta's Paradise« – and what else?


Coolio, who died at the age of 59, will be remembered for his 1995 worldwide smash hit. But to dismiss the rapper as a one-hit wonder would do him a little injustice. A memory in song.

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Rapper Coolio 2000: A super hit as a blessing and a curse

Photo: Photo Rob Verhorst / Redferns

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. has died at the age of 59, found lifeless in a friend's bathroom by the host.

A sad, untimely death for the man the world knew by his stage name Coolio.

And the name Coolio will always be associated with his biggest hit: »Gangsta's Paradise«.

In 1995 it was the best-selling single of the year in the USA and the song topped the charts in 16 countries.

In the (unlikely) case that he is no longer in your ear - here is the video, which incidentally was directed by Antoine Fuqua, later extremely successful with feature films such as »Training Day« and most recently »Bullet Train«:

»Gangsta's Paradise« (featuring LV)

"Gangsta's Paradise" initially owed its success to the fact that the song was used prominently in the Hollywood film "Dangerous Minds".

In it, Michelle Pfeiffer plays a teacher assigned to an inner-city California school where many of the students are gang members.

The mood of the song and the message of the film fit together, and as a former Compton gangster, Coolio knows what he's rapping about.

The fact that he quotes the biblical Psalm 23 so prominently ("And though I wandered in the valley of darkness") is explained by the fact that, according to his own statements, the Christian faith brought him out of his crack addiction.

Musically, of course, the track is very much based on "Pastime Paradise," the song by Stevie Wonder from his 1976 album "Songs in the Key of Life."

»Fantastic Voyage«

Coolio had landed his first hit a year earlier.

At the age of 30, he was relatively old as a debutant when his first album »It Takes a Thief« was released in 1994.

With its funk sound (with a sample by the band Lakeside) and the hydraulic Ford Impala in the video, the single "Fantastic Voyage" fulfilled typical hallmarks of West Coast rap of the era.

But Coolio stood out from many of his contemporaries because he rapped about the difficult everyday life with humor and lightness - nineties rap whose attitude seemed to tie in with the old school of the eighties.

»Too Hot«

Coolio admitted to wanting to use his celebrity to carry messages among the people.

An example of this was this song, the second single from his 1995 album »Gangsta's Paradise«.

"Too Hot" is based on the 1979 Kool & the Gang hit of the same name, but in its verses Coolio raps about safe sex and the dangers of HIV infection.

A few months earlier, former NWA rapper Eazy-E had died of AIDS.

In 2017, Coolio announced a bid to be the Democratic US vice presidential nominee in the 2020 election — on the ticket of porn actress Cherie DeVille.

Campaign motto: "Make America F*cking Awesome Again".

»CU When U Get There« (featuring 40 Thevz)

Coolio had his second biggest hit parade success in Germany with the first single from the third album, "My Soul" - number 3 in the summer of 1997. The song "CU When U Get There" prominently uses the melody of Pachelbel's "Canon in D major". , introduced right at the beginning as an organ figure.

An incident occurred while promoting the song that took Coolio from the pop sections to the smut of German newspapers: Coolio and his backing group 40 Thevz were arrested when they tried to steal clothes from the Boeblinger boutique Higgins Downtown.

The police union demanded that Coolio be banned from performing.

The rapper emphasized that it was a misunderstanding, he thought it was the fee for an autograph session.

Even the »New York Times« reported from the Boeblingen district court, which sentenced him to a suspended sentence in 1998 for being an accessory to robbery and dangerous injuries.

»Gangsta Walk« (featuring Snoop Dogg)

After 1997, Coolio never made it into the Billboard Hot 100 or the German single charts again.

But in the UK he had another small hit with this song in 2006.

In 2009, however, he had bad experiences with the British audience: at a performance in Staffordshire, he was robbed by the audience while stage diving – watch, jewelry, sneakers.

Years later, he claimed to remove his valuables as a precaution before meeting English fans.

It was certainly no coincidence that this last little hit was reminiscent of his biggest in terms of title and theme.

Coolio felt the huge success of "Gangsta's Paradise" as both a curse and a blessing, as he often confessed: "The song was so big that it overshadowed me".

The classic fate of a one-hit wonder, even if the title doesn't do it justice.

A 2011 rewrite featuring French DJ Kylian Mash flopped.

So we end here with a parody of Gangsta's Paradise published by Weird Al Yankovic in 1997 - Amish Paradise.


Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2022-09-29

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