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Regaining his Coolio
Regaining his Coolio

Best known for a run of hits in the 90s, hip-hop star Coolio is heading back to Australia for the first time in more than a decade.

While Fantastic Voyage, 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New) and C U When U Get There remain West Coast rap classics, it's his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit Gangsta's Paradise that has cemented the artist born Artis Leon Ivery Jr's legacy.

Coolio says the song, which appeared in the Michelle Pfeiffer-led gang drama Dangerous Minds, took on a life of its own as it became the highest-selling single of the year in Australia and the US.

"I think that it affected other people a lot more than it affected me," he says. "I think anyone could have done Gangsta's Paradise and had a hit, as long as they had the right kind of voice for it. The way I wrote it, I had no idea that it would be such a big song. Once it gained popularity, I think it had different meanings to everybody."

The song's iconic chorus sampled Stevie Wonder's 1976 single, Pastime Paradise, and Coolio along with LV, who sang the hook, got to perform the song with Wonder at the 1995 Billboard Music Awards. Coolio believes Wonder holds a soft spot in his heart for Gangsta's Paradise.

"I think he loved it, obviously," he says. "He probably made more money off of it than he did the original, I'm sure."

"Weird Al" Yankovic also did his take on the song with Amish Paradise, a parody Coolio originally lost his cool over.

"I was pissed off in the beginning because he asked me if he could do it and I said no, but he did it anyway," Coolio recalls.

"But I mean, I shouldn't have said no. I should have given the green light. I was wrong for that and I've admitted it several times."

As he gears up for his first shows of the millennium in Australia, he says hip-hop fans are in for a treat.

"It will be a good show, I guarantee you," he declares.

"I got one of the better shows in hip-hop, and I believe I'm in the Top 20 of all-time live on stage.

"That's my thing. I'll be doing something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."

'I got one of the better shows in hip-hop, and I believe I'm in the Top 20 of all-time live on stage.'