Setlist History: "Gangsta's Paradise" Meets Stevie Wonder

From the day samplers became affordable to rappers and producers, hip-hop artists have been taking bits of their favorite music and dropping a beat on it.

Artis Leon Ivey Jr., better known as Coolio followed in those footsteps when he took Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" and the 23rd psalm of the Bible and made a number one hit.

Billboard magazine, home of the top charts, recognized Coolio on December 6, 1995 at their awards presentation and the rapper brought up a very special guest, Wonder himself.

Backed by kids singing and playing violin, Stevie and Coolio interwove the original song from the 1976 classic Songs in the Key of Life, with the new mix that topped the music charts.

Meanwhile MTV played the video on heavy rotation, partially because it was being used in the Michelle Pfeiffer film, Dangerous Minds.

“I was No. 1 all over the entire planet — not just in the States. I was No. 1 everywhere that you can imagine,” Coolio told Rolling Stone in 2017 after the hype had, uh, cooled off a bit. But when he went to Europe he began to see how popular the tune with the ominious groove was.

Your song is not a hit until it's a Weird Al parodied-it-hit.

“I was like, ‘Man, these people don’t even speak English, and they’re loving the song like this?’ That’s what really tripped me out,” he said.

After their performance, Coolio and L.V. walked Stevie to the podium where the rapper accepted his award. Coolio thanked God, his family, representatives and his label, but when he thanked Wonder the crowd broke out in applause.

Immediately you can hear how much Coolio borrowed from the original Stevie Wonder tune.

All parties should have clapped for Stevie. The Motown artist originally didn't want Coolio to use the track because he didn't want any of the street language and profanity to find its way into his melody. When Coolio promised it would be a clean song, the pianist obliged.

Unlike many rap songs, the fact that "Paradise" could be played on any radio station or TV show helped its popularity spread quickly.

While presenters Luther Vandross and Kenny G looked on from the side of the stage, Coolio then thanked L.V. who gave this singer props for conceiving of the idea initially.

Coolio died on Sept. 28, 2022 due to an accidental OD of fentanyl. His last performance was just a few days before that tragic event, when he participated in a I Love The 90s alongside the likes of Young MC, Robb Base, and Vanilla Ice.

"Gangsta's Paradise" was the last song he performed, and he did it there that night. It would be the 281st time he'd perform it.

L.V. and the New York Boys Choir accompanied Coolio when he live debuted the song on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in Sept. 1995.

Not many cover the song as it's heavy on the lyrics, and the lyrics are heavy.

But Måneskin has no fear. They took it on, and have covered it at least 21 times, according to our stats.

Måneskin is wrapping up their world tour. If you are in Japan or the UK you still have a chance to catch them before the year is over.

And now you know what to yell out as a request.

Tickets available on their website.

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Last updated: 21 Feb 2024, 11:23 Etc/UTC