Gangsta's Paradise

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This article is about the Coolio song. For the album, see Gangsta's Paradise (album).
"Gangster's Paradise" redirects here. For the South African film, see Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema.
"Gangstas Paradise" redirects here. For the Extreme Championship Wrestling event, see ECW Gangstas Paradise.
"Gangsta's Paradise"
Gangsta's paradise.jpg
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 1994
Genre West Coast hip hop, gangsta rap
Length 4:00
Label Tommy Boy
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder, Coolio, 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 singer L.V.. The song was released on Coolio's album of the same name, as well as the soundtrack for the 1995 film Dangerous Minds. It samples the chorus and instrumentation of Stevie Wonder's 1976 song "Pastime Paradise".

The song was listed at number 85 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.[3] 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.

The song has sold over 5 million copies in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany alone,[4][5][6] 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 1995 Billboard Music Awards with L.V. and Wonder, at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards with L.V., and also with Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis.

Background and writing[edit]

The artists co-wrote the song its producer Doug Rasheed, with Stevie Wonder receiving writing credits for the sampling of his song "Pastime Paradise" from his album Songs in the Key of Life.

The Stevie Wonder sample is the reason why this is one of few Coolio tracks without profanity, as Wonder would not allow it. Coolio said, "I had a few vulgarities...and he wasn't with that. So I changed it. Once he heard it, he thought it was incredible."[7]

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." Adding to some of the religious overtones are choral vocals in the background.[8]


Coolio begins by reflecting on his life in a Biblical fashion: that his partaking in hoodlum activities has drained him of hope, and his damaged relationship with his mother. However, the narrative turns at this point with Coolio threatening rival gangs with certain death in the event that they take verbal liberties or transgress into his territory. He subsequently educates the listener on the history behind his current position in society; explaining the way in which his upbringing has entrapped him by creating his lust for power, money and murder. However it is at this point that he acknowledges the uncertainty of his survival on the street. Coolio therefore begins to lament the cyclical nature of the violence in which he partakes, as well as elucidating the collective chaos created by individual greed, selfishness and a lack of education or role models. He ends his personal journey on a hopeless admission: that his situation and surroundings will never improve.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was directed by Antoine Fuqua, and featured Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her earlier role in Dangerous Minds.[9]

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 performance[edit]

The single reached number one in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand, making it Coolio's most successful single. Following Coolio's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother 6, it re-entered the UK singles chart peaking at #31. In the United Kingdom, "Gangsta's Paradise" is the first rap single to sell over a million copies.

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.[10][unreliable source] Coolio himself said in a 2011 interview that he had since "apologized to him (Yankovic)".[11]

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.

In 1996, the song was covered by Battery for the electro-industrial various artists compilation Operation Beatbox.[12] American post-hardcore band In Fear And Faith covered the song in 2008. Austrian melodic death metal band Artas covered the song in 2008 on the album "The Healing". American industrial band Battery covered the song on their 1996 album, "Distance".

Sales records and awards[edit]

Track listings[edit]

CD single
No. Title Length
1. "Gangsta's Paradise"   4:00
2. "Gangsta's Paradise" (instrumental) 3:49
CD single bonus tracks
No. Title Length
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
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Gangsta's Paradise"     4:00
2. "Gangsta's Paradise" (instrumental)   3:49
3. "Fantastic Voyage" (album version) Coolio 4:04


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 (13 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 Eurochart number one single
November 11, 1995 – January 13, 1995 (10 weeks)
January 27, 1996 - February 17, 1996 (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


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[46] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[47] Platinum 50,000*
Germany (BVMI)[48] 2× Platinum 1,000,000^
Italy (FIMI)[49] Gold 25,000double-dagger
Netherlands (NVPI)[50] Platinum 75,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[51] 4× Platinum 40,000*
Sweden (GLF)[52] Gold 25,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[53] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] 2× Platinum 1,543,000[5]
United States (RIAA)[55] 3× Platinum 3,000,000[56]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ – Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time
  2. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1995/Top 100 Songs of 1995". 
  3. ^ "The 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs Ever - VH1 Blog Reality TV News and Gossip". VH1 Blog Reality TV News and Gossip. 
  4. ^ "Gangsta's Paradise" certifications RIAA – Gold and Platinum Searchable Database
  5. ^ a b Myers, Justin (October 24, 2015). "Quiz: Who sold more?". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 24, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. To access, user must enter song title under Titel, select Singles under Formate and click SUCHEN. 
  7. ^ "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. 
  8. ^ "Adventures in Missing the Point: 'Gangsta's Paradise'". RETUNED. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Weird and COOLIO?!?!? » Yank Blog
  11. ^ Johnson, Billy (1 August 2013). "Coolio Did Not Want Weird Al to Spoof 'Gangsta's Paradise'". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  12. ^ Christian, Chris (August 1996). "Various Artists: Operation Beatbox". Sonic Boom. 4 (7). Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  13. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  14. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  15. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  17. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 13, October 30, 1995". RPM. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
  18. ^ Billboard January 20, 1996. Billboard. 1996-01-20. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  19. ^ "Coolio: Gangsta's Paradise" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  20. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in French). Les classement single.
  21. ^ " – Coolio Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  22. ^ Irish Single Chart (Retrieved February 21, 2008)
  23. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". Top Digital Download.
  24. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Coolio search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  25. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". Top 40 Singles.
  26. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". VG-lista.
  27. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 1996). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  28. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". Singles Top 100.
  29. ^ " – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". Swiss Singles Chart.
  30. ^ "Coolio: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  31. ^ a b c d Billboard (Retrieved August 4, 2008)
  32. ^ 1995 Australian Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  33. ^ 1995 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  34. ^ 1995 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  35. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 
  36. ^ "Single top 100 over 1995" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  37. ^ 1995 French Singles Chart (Retrieved January 30, 2009)
  38. ^ "New Zealand End Of Year Charts 1995". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  39. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1995". Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  40. ^ 1996 Austrian Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  41. ^ 1996 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  42. ^ 1996 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  43. ^ 1996 German Singles Chart []
  44. ^ 1996 Swiss Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2008)
  45. ^ 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. 
  46. ^ "Accreditation Awards". Australian Fun Countdowns. 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2012-05-09. 
  47. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Coolio in the field Interpret. Enter Gangsta's Paradise in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen
  48. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Coolio; 'Gangsta's Paradise')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  49. ^ "Italian single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved November 2, 2016.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Coolio in the field Filtra. Select 2016 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  50. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  51. ^ "Norwegian single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  52. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  53. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Coolio; 'Gangsta's Paradise')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  54. ^ "British single certifications – Coolio ft LV – Gangsta's Paradise". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 April 2012.  Enter Gangsta's Paradise in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  55. ^ "American single certifications – Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  56. ^ Sandiford-Waller, Theda (November 9, 1996). "Hot 100 Singles Spotlight". Billboard. BPI Communications Inc. 108 (45): 83. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved February 26, 2015. 

External links[edit]