Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gangsta's Paradise

The hook of the song begs the question "why are we so blind to see/ that the ones we hurt are you and me." Gangsta's Paradise is the reflection on the life that was lived on the streets. The violence, misogyny and overall paranoia are what characterize the life of the "gangsta." Chasing power, respect and bitches will not lead you to a good end or a long life. This song was made before the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, but the message is just as applicable to the rap scene in the aftermath. It was a wakeup call got a lot of radio play but not many real listeners. The consequences of gangsta life are two-fold: jail or death. A gangsta's paradise isn't enjoyable for a gangsta according to Coolio.


  1. I'll always remember the opening lines:

    As I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
    I take a look at my life,
    And realize there's nothing left

    The bleakness of this description of the "gangsta" life poses such a stunning contrast to the emphasis on the wealth and fame of contemporary music culture. Isn't interesting that there is a delineation between the fantasies of gangsta life as portrayed in music videos and in music as opposed to reality? Does it then mean that coolio was not successful in getting his message across, or is it rather, the promise of propserity that allows people to sidestep and ignore reality.

  2. I totally agree with you Hee-LIen. Those opening lines are the best part of the song for me besides the actually hook, which I happen to find mesmerizing. I think Coolio's plead fell on deaf ears and largely continues to do so to this day. But, I also think you're right in saying that the promise or prosperity is alluring enough to make most disregard some of the uglier sides of having success in a "gangsta" world.

  3. We have talked previously about covers of rap songs by white bands, and this happened with this song too. But Weird Al Yankovich did his version a little bit differently. His hit 'Amish Paradise' completely made fun of Coolio. But unlike the other 'farce' covers, Coolio got incredibly upset. He wanted this message to be a large social message and he was completely undermined by Weird Al. (This actually started some hilarious beef between the two but Coolio has ever right to be hurt because he was being completely honest. Just look at this line:

    'I'm twenty-three now, but will I live to see twenty-four,
    The way things is going I don't know.'

    That's some serious talk there. And Weird Al did what he did best and made this deeply meaningful song into a joke knock-off. Overall, this might be the best beef in the rap game of all time.


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