Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was born on August 1, 1963. He is an American rapper, singer, record producer, and actor known professionally as Coolio. He achieved mainstream success with his albums It Takes a Thief, Gangsta’s Paradise, and My Soul in the mid-to-late 1990s. He is best known for his Grammy Award-winning hit single Gangsta’s Paradise, which he released in 1995, along with other singles like Fantastic Voyage, 1, 2, 3, 4, and C U When U Get There. With all the music he has made over the years, you’d be surprised to know that one song did not contain profanity. But what song was it?
Gangsta’s Paradise is one of the few Coolio songs that does not contain profanity at all because it was the only way Stevie Wonder would agree to the sampling of his song “Pastime Paradise.”
What was Coolio’s Inspiration For Writing Gangster’s Paradise?
Stevie Wonder received writing credits for the sampling of his song Pastime Paradise from his album Songs in the Key of Life, which the artists co-wrote with their producer Doug Rasheed.
The song begins with a line from Psalm 23:4: As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but then diverges with; I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left. Choral vocals in the background add to some of the religious overtones. Coolio freestyled the first couple of lines, with the rest of the lyrics coming to him quickly in one sitting. He would later claim that the song came from somewhere other than himself.
Gangsta’s Paradise’ wanted to be born; it wanted to come to life, and it chose me as the vessel. I used a few vulgarities and he didn’t like it. As a result, I altered it. He thought it was incredible when he first heard it.Artis Leon “Coolio” Ivey Jr., American Rapper
(Source: Song Facts)
How Well Did Gangsta’s Paradise Do?
Gangsta’s Paradise was one of the songs that swept the world in the second half of 1995. Its combination of introspective lyrics, a gospel-inspired singalong chorus, and a hook sampled from Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise proved to be the perfect recipe for a global smash.
Coolio’s most successful single reached number one in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand.
The song stayed at No. 1 in Australia for 14 weeks, a record that would be broken 22 years later by Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. It re-entered the UK singles chart after Coolio’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother 6, peaking at No. 31. Gangsta’s Paradise is the first rap single to sell over a million copies in the United Kingdom.
The single spent twelve weeks in the top two of the Billboard Hot 100, three at No. 1 and nine at No. 2, putting Gangsta’s Paradise in joint fourth place for the most weeks spent at No. 2 by a single in the chart’s history.
On February 23, 1996, the RIAA certified the song triple platinum, indicating 3 million copies sold. As of September 2017, it had sold 1.8 million digital downloads in the United States. (Source: Official Charts)