COOLIO – Gangsta’s Paradise

“Gangsta’s Paradise” is the highest-charting 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, and ten days later it was heard in the film Dangerous Minds. Certified Platinum in October, the song was included on Coolio’s second album Gangsta’s Paradise in November 1995.

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. 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 ultimately came from a source outside himself, saying: “‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ wanted to be born; it wanted to come to life, and it chose me as the vessel.”

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left
‘Cause I’ve been blastin’ and laughin’ so long, that
Even my mama thinks that my mind is gone

But I ain’t never crossed a man that didn’t deserve it
Me be treated like a punk, you know that’s unheard of
You better watch how you’re talkin’, and where you’re walkin’
Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk

I really hate to trip but I gotta loc
As they croak, I see myself in the pistol smoke, fool
I’m the kinda G the little homies wanna be like
On my knees in the night, sayin’ prayers in the streetlight

Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Keep spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Keep spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise

Look at the situation they got me facin’
I can’t live a normal life, I was raised by the street
So I gotta be down with the hood team
Too much television watchin’ got me chasin’ dreams

I’m an educated fool with money on my mind
Got my ten in my hand and a gleam in my eye
I’m a loc’d out gangsta set trippin’ banger
And my homies is down so don’t arouse my anger, fool

Death ain’t nothin’ but a heartbeat away
I’m livin’ life, do or die, what can I say
I’m 23 now, but will I live to see 24?
The way things is going, I don’t know

Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the ones we hurt, are you and me?

Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Keep spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Keep spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise

Power and the money, money and the power
Minute after minute, hour after hour
Everybody’s runnin’, but half of them ain’t lookin’
It’s goin’ on in the kitchen, but I don’t know what’s cookin’

They say I gotta learn, but nobody’s here to teach me
If they can’t understand it, how can they reach me
I guess they can’t, I guess they won’t
I guess they front, that’s why I know my life is out of luck, fool

Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Keep spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise
Keep spendin’ most our lives, livin’ in the gangsta’s paradise

Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the ones we hurt, are you and me?
Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the ones we hurt, are you and me?