Gangsta's Paradise (song)

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"Gangsta's Paradise"
Single by Coolio featuring L.V.
from the album Gangsta's Paradise, I Am L.V., and Dangerous Minds soundtrack
Released August 8, 1995
Format CD single, cassette, 12" single
Recorded 1995
Genre West Coast hip hop, gangsta rap
Length 4:00
Label Tommy Boy Records
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder
Doug Rasheed
Larry Sanders
Producer(s) Doug Rasheed
Certification 3x Platinum (RIAA)
Coolio singles chronology
"Mama I'm in Love wit a Gangsta"
"Gangsta's Paradise"
"Too Hot"
Music sample

"Gangsta's Paradise" is a song by American rapper Coolio featuring L.V.. The song was released on the Coolio album Gangsta's Paradise, as well as the Dangerous Minds soundtrack in 1995. Coolio was awarded a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance, two MTV Video Music Award's for Best Rap Video and for Best Video from a Film and a Billboard Music Award for the song/album. The song was voted as the best single of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.

It sampled the chorus and music of the song "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder (1976).

The song was also listed at number 69 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All-Time[1] and number one biggest selling single of 1995 on U.S. Billboard.[2] In 2008, it was ranked number 38 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.[citation needed]

The song has sold over 5 million copies in the U.S., U.K., and Germany alone,[3][4][5] and at least 5.7 million worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. Coolio has performed this song live at the Billboard Music Awards with L.V. and Stevie Wonder and also with Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis.

Background and writing[edit]

L.V. released a solo version of the single in 1996 on his debut album, I Am L.V. This version did not feature Coolio, and featured additional lyrics written by L.V. himself, rap lyrics written by Scarface and Dani Blooms.

Lyrics and music[edit]

The music is a reworking of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise", a song from his album Songs in the Key of Life. "Gangsta's Paradise" uses the same melody, but a different orchestration of the same music. Coolio's main contribution to the song was in changing the original's attack on living in the past or future (and not dealing with the pressing issues of the present) to the story of a young African-American "gangsta", regretting the life he has chosen.

The song begins with a line from Psalm 23:4 from the Bible: 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. Adding to some of the religious overtones are choral vocals in the background.

This song is one of the few Coolio tracks which does not feature profanity.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was directed by Antoine Fuqua of Propaganda Films, and featured Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her earlier role in Dangerous Minds.

When Coolio won the Best Rap Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996, he said in a press conference that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony deserved the award for "Tha Crossroads".

Chart performances[edit]

The single reached number one in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand, making it Coolio's most successful single. Following Coolio's appearance in the UK TV show Celebrity Big Brother 2009 Gangsta's Paradise re-entered the UK singles chart peaking at #31. In the United States, the single spent twelve weeks in the top two of the Billboard Hot 100, of which three were spent at #1 and nine at #2, putting "Gangsta's Paradise" in joint fourth place for the most weeks spent at #2 by a single in the chart's history.

Parodies and covers[edit]

There are several parodies of the song, including "Amish Paradise" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, which was released the following year, reaching number 53 on the U.S. chart. Coolio claimed that he did not give permission for the parody, which led to disagreements between the two. Yankovic claimed that he had been told Coolio had given the go-ahead through his record label, and apologized. Because of this incident, Yankovic now only does parodies by artists that he has spoken with directly, rather than through intermediaries. Photos from the XM Satellite Radio booth at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show suggest Yankovic and Coolio may have made amends.[6]

American post-hardcore band In Fear And Faith covered the song in 2008. Swedish boy band E.M.D. covered the song on their 2010 album "Rewind". American singer-songwriter Kina Grannis has covered the song in concert. Richard Cheese covered the song on his 2010 album "Lavapalooza" (as "Johny Aloha"). New Zealand band Like a Storm covered the song for their 2012 album, "Chaos Theory". American band Falling in Reverse covered the song on the album Punk Goes 90's 2.

Kris Allen, winner of the eighth season of American Idol, has also performed an acoustic cover in concert.

Usage in media[edit]

This song was used in the Angel episode Double Or Nothing during a flashback to 1995, in the 2011 films The Green Hornet and Bad Teacher, and in the 2013 film Pain & Gain. In one episode of MTV series When I Was 17, Tia and Tamera Mowry said it is their favorite song.

Sales records and awards[edit]

Track listings[edit]

CD single
  1. "Gangsta's Paradise" — 4:00
  2. "Gangsta's Paradise" (instrumental) — 3:49
CD single bonus tracks
  1. "Gangsta's Paradise" - 4:02
  2. "Fantastic Voyage (Original Version)" - 4:05
  3. "Mama I'm In Love Wit A Gangsta (Clean Radio Mix)" - 4:09
  4. "Gangsta's Paradise (Instrumental)" - 3:50
CD maxi
  1. "Gangsta's Paradise" — 4:00
  2. "Gangsta's Paradise" (instrumental) — 3:49
  3. "Fantastic Voyage" (album version) by Coolio — 4:04

Charts and sales[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[37] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[38] Platinum 50,000x
Germany (BVMI)[39] 2× Platinum 1,000,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[40] Platinum 75,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[41] 4× Platinum 40,000*
Sweden (GLF)[42] Gold 25,000x
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[43] 2× Platinum 100,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] 2× Platinum 1,410,000[45]
United States (RIAA)[46] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Chart successions[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
September 9, 1995 - September 23, 1995 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Fantasy" by Mariah Carey
Preceded by
"A Kind of Christmas Card" by Morten Harket
Norwegian VG-Lista number one single
42/1995 - 2/1996 (14 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Jesus to a Child" by George Michael
Preceded by
"Fairground" by Simply Red
United Kingdom Number 1 single
October 28, 1995 - November 4, 1995 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Believe"/"Up on the Roof" by Robson & Jerome
Preceded by
"Stayin' Alive" by N-Trance feat. Ricardo Da Force
Australian ARIA number one single
October 22, 1995 - January 14, 1996 (11 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Jesus to a Child" by George Michael
Preceded by
"Fantasy" by Mariah Carey
"One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men
New Zealand RIANZ number one single
October 29, 1995 - December 17, 1995 (8 weeks)
January 14, 1996 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men
Preceded by
"Lucky Love" by Ace of Base
Finnish number one single
44/1995 - 1/1996 (9 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Jesus to a Child" by George Michael
Preceded by
"Het is een nacht... (Levensecht)" by Guus Meeuwis & Vagant
Dutch Top 40 number one single
November 4, 1995 - December 9, 1995 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Ademnood" by Linda, Roos & Jessica
Preceded by
"Waterfalls" by TLC
"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson
"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson
Swiss number one single
November 5, 1995 - December 3, 1995 (5 weeks)
December 17, 1995 (1 week)
January 21, 1996 - February 11, 1996 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson
"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson
"Children" by Robert Miles
Preceded by
"Boombastic" by Shaggy
"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson
Eurochart Hot 100 Swiss number one single
November 11, 1995 - January 13, 1995 (10 weeks)
January 27, 1995 - February 17, 1995 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Earth Song" by Michael Jackson
"Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo
Preceded by
"Het is een nacht... (Levensecht)" by Guus Meeuwis & Vagant
"Ik ben een vent" by Jimmy B
Belgian (Flanders) number one single
December 2, 1995 (1 week)
December 16, 1995 - December 30, 1995 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Ik ben een vent" by Jimmy B
"Knockin'" by Double Vision
Preceded by
"Je sais pas" by Céline Dion
"Dieu m'a donné la foi" by Ophélie Winter
French SNEP number one single
December 2, 1995 - February 17, 1996 (12 weeks)
March 2, 1996 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Dieu m'a donné la foi" by Ophélie Winter
"Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo
Preceded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Belgian (Wallonia) number one single
December 2, 1995 - March 2, 1996 (14 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo
Preceded by
"Knockin'" by Double Vision
Austrian number one single
December 17, 1995 - February 11, 1996 (8 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo
Preceded by
"The Sign" by Ace of Base
Billboard Hot 100 Number one single of the year
Succeeded by
"Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" by Los Del Rio


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  5. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. To access, user must enter song title under Titel, select Singles under Formate and click SUCHEN. 
  6. ^ Weird and COOLIO?!?!? » Yank Blog
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  8. ^ "Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise –" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  9. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in French). Ultratop 50.
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  27. ^ 1995 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
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  32. ^ 1996 Austrian Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  33. ^ 1996 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  34. ^ 1996 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  35. ^ 1996 Swiss Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  36. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade - The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
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  40. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  41. ^ "Norwegian single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  42. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
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  44. ^ "British single certifications – Coolio ft LV – Gangsta's Paradise". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 April 2012.  Enter Gangsta's Paradise in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
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External links[edit]