As most of the world knows by now, hip-hop lost a legend in Compton’s own Coolio. I myself first came across his music when he was a part of WC’s “Maad Circle”. Although he didn’t have a large musical presence on the group’s first album, he stood out because of his unique hairstyle. I was a bit surprised when I learned that Coolio was coming out with a solo album of his own called It Takes A Thief and that some critics were calling it a classic. Soon enough the world was treated to the album’s debut single “Fantastic Voyage” which was essentially a remake of the popular 80’s hit of the same name by the group Lakeside. I purchased the cassette on the strength of that single and found other gems like “County Line” and “Ghetto Cartoon”.
However, it wasn’t until “Gangsta’s Paradise” was released that Coolio became a certified star. Another song that borrowed from a previous classic in “Pastime Paradise” by Stevie Wonder. Serving as the album title and lead single, “Gangsta’s Paradise” was also the lead song for the movie Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The video for the song got a huge boost from the movie and it was played on MTV and every other outlet. LV from South Central Cartel who sang the hook was soon added to the song’s credits. The album itself sold over 3 million copies and the single millions more. This was Coolio’s peak as his musical presence began to dim as the new century rolled in.
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Coolio after I joined the music business. Our first encounter was in 2005 and was set up by a mutual friend named Jazzy D. This was an interview for WestCoastRydaz and he met our film crew out in a building near the Fox Hills Mall. Coolio shared stories and advice for new rappers. Our second encounter was in 2009 and it was for AllHipHop. Coolio met me and my homie DJ Nik Bean out in Marina Del Rey. Over dinner, I interviewed him again this time to promote a reality show that he was filming with his children. I’m thankful for those two opportunities and it saddens me to learn of his passing yesterday. But as I offer my prayers to his soul and to his family and friends, I also have to thank God for letting me have my small part in his large life. RIP Coolio. May you truly have a fantastic voyage.