Coolio's "Gangsta’s Paradise" Lyrics Meaning - Song Meanings and Facts (2023)

The lyrics of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” are meant to illustrate the mental processes of a prototypical street gangsta.So as expected, many of words featured therein focus on the type of violent and criminal behavior which such a lifestyle is based on.

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In other words, Coolio, who portrays the role of such an individual, makes it perfectly clear that if he is crossed the wrong way, the death of the person who offended him could very well be the result.

Gangsta Rap with a Difference

But this is not your average gangsta rap whose primary purpose is to depict the vocalist as a tough, uncompromising individual. Rather Coolio and co. wrote the lyrics specifically within the context of a film entitled “Dangerous Minds” (1995).Said movie centers largely on a group of high school students from the depths of the ‘hood.

And accordingly Coolio sets out to capture the sense of pessimism which is part and parcel of growing up in such an environment.That’s why for instance in the second verse he doubts if he will even be alive a year from now.Such is a common way of thinking amongst shall we say young minority males who come from inner-city American communities.For as is brought to light throughout the song, such environments are plagued by gun violence.

What does “Gangsta’s Paradise” mean?

So conclusively, the titular “gangsta’s paradise” would actually be an alternative name for the ghetto, if you will.And the title of this song is indeed sarcastic.For there is nothing contained within the lyrics which point to the idea of the ‘hood being enjoyable. Rather the termparadise, as presented in the title, is more or less synonymous with the wordideology.

That is to say that this song represents the type of ‘gangsta’ lifestyle young men actually strive to live up to on the mean streets of say California. And FYI, California is the place where “Dangerous Minds” is set and which also happens to be where Coolio grew up.

But we can also see that this way of life leaves much to be desired, as there is little to no hope in the mind of the individual (who adopts it) for a long, prosperous future.


So for all intents and purposes, at least in the mind of the public, “Gangsta Paradise” is one of the more-authentic gangsta rap songs ever. And why is this the case? Simply because instead of going out of his way to depict the street as an enjoyable place or himself as someone who is relishing the life of a violent criminal, Coolio rather focuses on a very important topic. He focuses on the general sense of hopelessness many people who reside in such areas are actually afflicted with.

Coolio's "Gangsta’s Paradise" Lyrics Meaning - Song Meanings and Facts (1)

Release Date of “Gangsta’s Paradise”

“Gangsta’s Paradise” was released by Tommy Boy Records on 8 August 1995. It proved to be such a hit that it actually served as the lead single from three different albums.Foremost would perhaps be the “Dangerous Minds: Music from the Motion Picture”.That is because the music video to the song was heavily influenced by the film, in fact even co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer, the lead actress from “Dangerous Minds”, alongside Coolio.

The second album would be Coolio’s own sophomore effort, which was also entitled “Gangsta’s Paradise”.

And the third would be L.V.’s debut album, “I Am L.V.”, with L.V. being the relatively-obscure artist who sings the hook on “Gangsta’s Paradise”.It should also be noted that the rendition featured on his albumdoes not feature Coolio.

Who wrote “Gangsta’s Paradise”?

The credited writers of this song are Coolio, L.V., the track’s producer, Doug Rasheed and of course the legendary Stevie Wonder.And the acknowledgement of Wonder is due to the fact that “Gangsta’s Paradise” uses his song.

Actually “Gangsta’s Paradise” relies heavily on sampling and interpolating Wonder’s 1976 hit “Pastime Paradise”.

Interesting to note is that Coolio initially featured some curse words and other offensive language on this song.However, Stevie Wonder, an artist who always strove to take the higher ground,didn’t like that. He therefore decided not to grant him permission to use“Pastime Paradise” until he made the lyrics of “Gangsta’s Paradise” more family-friendly.

Music Video

The music video to this song had Antoine Fuqua (who later directed Denzel Washington’s “Training Day”) as its director.It went on to take home two 1996 MTV VMAs, specifically in the following categories:

  • Best Video from a Film
  • Best Rap Video

Mega Success

Moreover as alluded to earlier, the song itself was a smash hit.In fact “Gangsta’ Paradise” can easily be classified as one of the most-successful tunes in the history of rap music.For instance, it topped the music charts in almost 20 nations.Impressively enough, the list of charts in which it had done so includes both the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart, a very-rare feat in and of itself.

But also noteworthy is that it replicated the feat in places such as Belgium, Denmark and Iceland, i.e. countries where rap songs don’t commonly make it to number one.

And furthermore, this classic hit number one in just about every country in which it charted.

As if that wasn’t enough, it went on to the be ranked the top song of 1995 by Billboard (becoming the first rap song to top Billboard’s year-end chart). It also came in second place in that regard on the UK Singles Chart. And afterwards Billboard also placed “Gangsta’s Paradise” on its list of“Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs”.

Additionally it isrecognized as the first hardcore rap, if you will, that got to the number 1 spot in Britain.

(Video) Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]

Moreover “Gangsta’s Paradise” held the record on Australia’s ARIA chart for well over 20 years (until 2017) for the song that spent the most weeks at number one. FYI, it held down this position for a total of 15 weeks.

The countries in which the tune has been certified multi-Platinum are as follows:

  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • United States
  • United Kingdom

“Gangsta’s Paradise” is also recognized as being so influential thatit boosted the success of “Dangerous Minds”. FYI, in and of itself the aforementioned film is not recognized as a great film.

Notable Awards

“Gangsta’s Paradise” also won the 1996 Grammy Award forBest Rap Solo Performance. A year earlier (in 1995), it was honored at the Billboard Music Awards.

“Amish Paradise”

In fact this song proved to be so popular that even a parody of it by comedian/musician Weird Al Yankovic, entitled “Amish Paradise”, managed to make itonto the Billboard Hot 100.

Millions of Copies sold Worldwide!

And in closure concerning the commercial success of “Gangsta’s Paradise”, as of 2020, it is recognized as one of the top-selling songs of all-time. It has soldin excess of six-million copiesworldwide.

The “Gangsta’s Paradise” Album

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. known professionally as Coolio, is the name behind the album “Gangsta’s Paradise”. This was the second studio album of the artist.

The album was released on 7thNovember, 1995. It holds the distinction of being Coolio’s best-selling album as it sold over three million copies in the United States.

Furthermore, it went on to receive a Grammy nomination at the 1997 Grammys. It was nominated in the “Best Rap Album” category.

Three singles were released prior to the album’s release.

The album was produced with the help of the artist himself, and other American record producers and song-writers like the following:

  • Devon Davis
  • Christopher Hamabe
  • Doug Rasheed
  • Bryan “The Wino” Dobbs

There were 17 tracks listed on the album, with a spanning length of sixty-four minutes, twenty-five seconds.

12 Responses

  • Comments12
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  1. Ryan Waihape says:

    August 6, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    Gangster’s paradise is prison. Been spending most our lives living in a gangster’s paradise.


    • Anonymous says:

      February 28, 2021 at 2:06 pm

      No bro, it isn’t
      Being ‘trapped’ in the hood is far more realistic than you might initially think


      (Video) Gangsta's Paradise
  2. KFlex says:

    May 1, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Yup anonymous has it right


    • Tom says:

      December 14, 2022 at 11:53 am

      Ten fingers

      (Video) Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (Lyrics) ft. L.V.


  3. trav says:

    September 3, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    a mac 10 can not be easy conceal. its a block steel.


  4. Verified says:

    April 22, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Let’s see who is searching for this in 2022


  5. Anon says:


    June 2, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    It is not true that it is hood.
    It is actually the prison we live of tyranny from our governments, corporations and the system that we are forced into from the birth.


    • Anonymous says:

      October 6, 2022 at 7:23 am

      Exactly! It’s about living in a society where you are controlled. Has nothing to do with prison or the hood.


  6. @Dembae1 says:

    September 19, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    There are no gangsta’s living in Paradise!!!


  7. fred says:

    September 29, 2022 at 11:54 am

    RIP coolio


    (Video) Coolio ft. L.V. “Gangsta's Paradise” on the Howard Stern Show (1995)

Leave a Reply


What is the story behind Gangsta's Paradise? ›

The film follows an idealistic teacher, Pfeiffer, and her students in a troubled inner-city high school. Coolio wrote the verses to go along with the plotline of the film and the lack of control the kids have in their lives.

Did Coolio steal Gangsta's Paradise from Stevie Wonder? ›

"Gangsta's Paradise" is a single by American rapper Coolio. Interpolating Stevie Wonder's 1976 song "Pastime Paradise", and featuring American singer L.V., the single was released on August 1, 1995. Certified Platinum in October, the song was included on Coolio's second album Gangsta's Paradise in November 1995.

Who originally wrote Gangsters Paradise? ›

The singer L.V. (born Larry Sanders), who features on the song, had already started collaborating with Rasheed on the track, he said in an interview, when Coolio wrote those lyrics.

Is Gangsta's Paradise a one hit wonder? ›

While he might be best known for “Gangsta's Paradise,” Coolio is far from a one- or two-hit wonder, achieving major label success throughout the '90s.

What is the message of gangsta rap? ›

Primary themes of gangster rap music are identified, particularly with respect to glorifying the gang lifestyle and mentality, violence, racism, the black male sexual stereotype as a lover, and sexist attitudes toward women.

What does gangsta mean? ›

Noun. gangsta (plural gangstas) (slang) A member of an urban criminal or street gang.

What made gangsta rap controversial? ›

Gangsta rap has been recurrently accused of promoting disorderly conduct and broad criminality, especially assault, homicide, and drug dealing, as well as misogyny, promiscuity, and materialism.

What disease does Coolio have? ›

10/3/2022 11:59 AM PT

What's more, we know Coolio's family also told investigators looking into his death about his history with asthma. We're told Coolio would always travel with several inhalers to keep his condition in check -- even using them on stage during some of his performances.

How rich is Coolio? ›

Rapper Coolio, most famous for his hit song “Gangsta's Paradise,” died at age 59 on Sept. 28, TMZ reported. At the time of his death, the performer held an estimated net worth of $1.5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Who was the founding father of gangsta rap? ›

Eric Lynn Wright (September 7, 1964 – March 26, 1995), known professionally as Eazy-E, was an American rapper who propelled West Coast rap and gangsta rap by leading the group N.W.A and its label, Ruthless Records. He is often referred to as the "Godfather of Gangsta Rap".

Where did gangsta culture come from? ›

In Houston, Texas, the Geto Boys' sex- and violence-dominated music was the subject of outrage in some corners. But gangsta rap became a national phenomenon in California, where a distinct school of West Coast hip-hop began with Eazy E's Los Angeles group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude).

How did Coolio get his name? ›

Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., Coolio was initially called “Boo” in high school, according to Black Names Project. But after a friend jokingly called him “Coolio Iglesias” as a riff on Latin singer Julio Iglesias, the name “Coolio” stuck and became his calling card.

What is the number 1 one-hit wonder of all time? ›

Los Del Rio Macarena

What is the biggest selling one-hit wonder? ›

Below are the 11 top-selling one-hit wonders of all time, ranked by how many times platinum their singles went:
  • Desiigner, "Panda" — 5x platinum. ...
  • Silentó, "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" — 6x platinum. ...
  • Passenger, "Let Her Go" — 6x platinum. ...
  • Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger" — 8x platinum. ...
  • Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know (feat.
Jun 25, 2019

How much can a one-hit wonder make? ›

According to Pierre Bradshaw, who worked 6 years at MCA/Universal Music, a band with a hit song can bring in anywhere from $10 thousand to $50 thousand per performance. And the actual members of the band get to keep around 85% to 90% of that. (Their manager usually gets a 10% to 15% cut.)

Who is the biggest gangster in rap? ›

Eazy-E is, without a doubt, the most notorious gangsta rapper of all. The artist was a gangbanging long before he ever stood close to a microphone, and it was this fearsome refusal to be anything other than “real” that attracted Dre to the artist in the first place.

Is gangsta rap political? ›

Gangsta rap played an essential and highly complex role in shaping rhetorical and political discourse surrounding the criminal justice system in the mid 1980s and 1990s during the War on Crime Era.

Does rap music affect behavior? ›

This research concluded that listening to aggressive music with aggressive lyrics increases aggressive thoughts and feelings, which often turn into aggressive and violent actions. Now, for how rap music has influenced drug use and drug involvement in generally.

What is a female gangster called? ›

A gun moll or gangster moll or gangster's moll is the female companion of a male professional criminal. "Gun" was British slang for thief, derived from Yiddish ganef, from the Hebrew gannāb (גנב). "Moll" is also used as a euphemism for a woman prostitute.

What are the 3 laws in gangsta? ›

Gina believes strongly in the Three Laws that govern Twilights, which are based on Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics: No action can be taken against 'normals', obey your master, defend yourself.

What does O.G. stand for? ›

OG stands for Original Gangster. OG is an internet slang initialism used to describe an extraordinary person.

Who were the first gangster rappers? ›

Gangsta rap, a style of rap with lyrics that often depict violence and activities related to street gangs, emerged in the 1980s with Los Angeles-based rappers like N.W.A. and Ice-T.

Who is first rapper? ›

The major pioneers of rapping were Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, and the Cold Crush Brothers, whose Grandmaster Caz is controversially considered by some to be the true author of some of the strongest lyrics in “Rapper's Delight.” These early MCs and deejays constituted rap's old school.

What does G mean in rap? ›

A slang term that stands for gangster; commonly used in an urban setting or by teenage posers who think they're really cool; stems from OG; appears in many rap songs.

Is Coolio a felon? ›

Because Ivey is a convicted felon, he can't own any firearms, knives, ammunition or weapons of any kind. Outside of the courtroom, Ivey told reporters the ordeal was a misunderstanding. “I do not condone the use of firearms legal or illegal,” he said. “I was very worried.”

What rappers have asthma? ›

Throughout the 40 years of Hip-Hop, artists like Pharoahe Monch have suffered at the hands of an asthma attack. Lil' Scrappy, for example, who's famous for his “crunk” street-driven anthems, was hospitalized circa 2012 after experiencing a severe asthma seizure.

Why did Coolio the rapper pass away? ›

Coolio apparently suffered a heart attack at a friend's house, his manager said.

Who is the richest rapper? ›

Check out the Richest's Rappers of 2023
  • Snoop Dogg's Net worth: $150 Million.
  • Lil Wayne's Net Worth: $160 Million.
  • Ice Cube's Net Worth: $160 Million.
  • Ronald 'Slim' Williams' Net Worth: $170 Million.
  • Drake's Net Worth: 180 million.
  • Pharrell William's Net Worth: 200 million.
  • Master P's Net Worth: $200 Million.
Jan 4, 2023

How much is Snoop Dogg worth? ›

Snoop Dogg has made a massive wealth as well, currently Snoop Dogg Net Worth 2023 is $165 million.

What is the meaning of Coolio? ›

coolio (not comparable) (slang) Cool; awesome; alright. quotations ▼

Who is the god father of rap? ›

R&B Singer Andre Williams — Known as the “Godfather of Rap” — Dead at 82.

Who was the first black rapper in history? ›

One of the first rappers at the beginning of the hip hop period, at the end of the 1970s, was also hip hop's first DJ, DJ Kool Herc. Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, started delivering simple raps at his parties, which some claim were inspired by the Jamaican tradition of toasting.

Who ended gangsta rap? ›

Kanye West Killed 50 Cent AND Gangsta Rap 10 Years Ago (Video) Ten years ago this week, Hip-Hop experienced a real watershed moment. On September 11, 2007, 50 Cent and Kanye West squared off. It was not physical.

What is the mindset of a gangster? ›

Gangs normally project an arrogant and defiant attitude in an attempt to intimidate others, especially in a public place and while in the presence of other gang members. Attitude is displayed when an impression can be made, to create fear and intimidate others.

Who invented rap? ›

Rap began in 1971, in the Bronx, with Kool Herc, who was from Jamaica. At block parties, Kool Herc would play two turntables by hand and manipulate the sound to create an entirely new sound, while he rapped the lyrics from the song he was playing.

What are the dangers of gangsta rap? ›

Gangsta rap has been widely criticized for an array of societal ills, including promoting crime (including murder), homophobia, rape, drug dealing, street gangs, sexism and much more.

Did Coolio get robbed? ›

But the Gangsta's Paradise hitmaker said he would be taking precautions this time. It comes after he was robbed when he jumped into the crowd at a gig at Staffordshire University in 2009. The 53-year-old said: "I consider my UK fans, friends and fellow artists as family.

How much money did Coolio make on Gangsta's Paradise? ›

As per a report by Business Insider, Coolio received $23,227 per annum as royalties for Gangsta's Paradise. The rapper also generated between $134,000 and $225,000 per year for his 123 songs. Apart from royalties from his music, Coolio has made appearances in several films and television shows during his life.

What are some fun facts about Coolio? ›

Coolio's real name is Artis Leon Ivey, Jr. He was given the nickname Coolio Iglesias when he was studying at Compton Community College. 5. Coolio's unimpressive movie career includes credits as a banker in Batman And Robin, Ice T's Judgement Day and spoof horror Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The Thirteenth.

What is the biggest hit song in history? ›

Guinness World Records also states that double A-side charity single "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (1997) by Elton John (rewritten as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, rather than Marilyn Monroe in the original 1973 version), is "the biggest-selling single since UK and US ...

What is the most played song of all time? ›

There's even a dispute over the exact title. Yet “It's a Small World,” also known as “It's a Small, Small World” and “It's a Small World (After All),” is very likely the most played song in music history — nearly 50 million times.

What is the top hit song of all time? ›

Top 10 songs of all time (1958–2021)
  • "The Twist" 1960, 1961 ( re ) ...
  • "Smooth" 1999. ...
  • "Mack the Knife" 1959. ...
  • "Uptown Funk" 2015. ...
  • "How Do I Live" 1997. LeAnn Rimes. ...
  • "Party Rock Anthem" 2011. LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock. ...
  • "I Gotta Feeling" 2009. The Black Eyed Peas. ...
  • "Macarena (Bayside Boys mix)" 1996. Los Del Rio.

Is Gangster's Paradise a true story? ›

Based on real-life events, Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema is a raw look into the crime and corruption of Johannesburg, South Africa.

What happened to Coolio after gangsters paradise? ›

GANGSTA'S Paradise rapper Coolio has died at age 59 after he reportedly collapsed while at a friend's house. The legendary rapper, born Artis Leon Ivey Jr, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles from what paramedics suspect was a cardiac arrest incident, his talent manager told The U.S. Sun.


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(Tommy Boy)
2. COOLIO - Gangsta's Paradise live in Copenhagen 21 May 2022
3. Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (Official Music Video) [HD] ft. L.V.
4. Coolio & Snoop Dogg - Gangsta Walk (Official Music Video)
(Long Beach Finest)
5. Coolio-Gangsta's Paradise (Extended)
(Yellow M I X)
6. Coolio - "Gangsta's Paradise" Live (1996)
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