Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey) released “Gangsta’s Paradise” in 1995, on his same titled album. The track was the soundtrack for the 1995 film “Dangerous Minds”, and samples the chorus and instrumentation of Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song, “Pastime Paradise”, altering the original lyrics of “they’ve been spending most of their lives / living in a pastime paradise”, to “been spendin’ most their lives / livin’ in a gangsta’s paradise”. The track is one of the best-selling singles of all time, and is ranked #69 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All-Time”, and #28 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop”.
“Gangsta’s Paradise” was on the soundtrack of 1995 movie “Dangerous Minds”, a film which starred Michelle Pfeiffer as a teacher in a “ghetto” high school. The track starts out with a line from Psalm 23:4: “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”, and features some religious tones due to gospel-like choir vocals in the background of the track. Originally, Stevie Wonder did not want Coolio to sample “Pastime Paradise” as he didn’t want his song to be used in “some gangster song”. Thanks to Coolio¡s wife, she contacted Wonder’s brother and managed to convince Wonder to meet with Coolio, In the end, Wonder agreed to allow Coolio to use the sample but only if certain conditions were met. “His only stipulation was that I had to take the curse words out”, Coolio told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview in August 2017. “I had two places where I had the N-word in it, and two places where it was, like, “F**ked in the ass,” or something like that. And Stevie said that if I’d take that out, he would sign off on it. Unbeknownst to me, the other condition was that he wanted 95 percent of the publishing!”
The music video features Michelle Pfeiffer re-enacting her earlier role in “Dangerous Minds” with Coolio singing the track to her while sitting on a chair, as well as featuring scenes from the original film. It was uploaded to the label’s YouTube channel in August 2017, and has almost 115 million views.
Release Date: 8th August 1995
Songwriter/s: Artis Ivey Jr., Larry Sanders, Doug Rasheed & Stevie Wonder
Producer/s: Doug Rasheed
Label/s: Tommy Boy
Music Video Release Date:
Music Video Director: Antoine Fuqua
Chart Rankings, Certifications, Awards: In it’s year of release “Gangsta’s Paradise” went to #1 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. It went 4x Platinum in Norway, 3x Platinum in Australia and the US, 2x Platinum in Germany, Switzerland and the UK. It also received Platinum certification in Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well going Gold in Italy and Sweden. Coolio was awarded a Grammy for “Best Rap Solo Performance”, two MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Video from a Film” as well as a “Billboard Music Award for the song and his album.