“…..as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life & realize there’s not much left cause I’ve been blastin & laughin so long…..” are opening lines in rapper Coolio’s 1995’s hit single Gangsta’s Paradise.
27 years later, the legendary rapper, real names Artis Leon Ivey Jr died on Wednesday at 59 years. Announcing his death, Sheila Finegan, who represented him at Trinity Artists International had this to say
“We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend & client coolio, who passed away this afternoon!”
His death’s cause has not been confirmed yet although its understood that he was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house in Los Angeles!
In Uganda, Coolio is well remembered by many Gen X folks who where in their youthful age between the mid 90’s through the early 2000’s. I spoke to some of the then youthful Ugandan entertainers that lived in the times to paint a rightful picture of Coolio and they all together described his peak time as a pivotal moment for the Rap game.
Roger Mugisha described Coolio as a big time Rapper that helped expose a larger audience to Hip Hop. During his performance in Uganda at Serena Hotel, then Nile hotel, Roger reminisces of a stage moment Coolio called out rappers for a rap contest, RS Elvis came through and performed although Coolio dissed his performance.
Jk Kazoora who hosted Jam Agenda on WBS TV in the early 2000’s speaks fondly of Coolio and how his Hip Hop game inspired Ugandan rappers.
“One thing about him is he inspired Ugandan rappers to shift from the hyped and fast style of Hip Hop to a calm one of rhyming while at ease with deep message” he said!
Renowned old School music Deejay, Nimrod Nabeta who was still in school the time Gangster Paradise was released described the song as a mega Old school anthem. “You can’t play deep old school music and miss songs like those, its a mega Old School anthem” he said. He further added that Coolio was responsible for their fashion trends in school then. He mentions of the baggy jeans and timberland shoes taking shape amongst many youth that drew inspiration from Coolio.
Songstress Queen Bella who rocked the airwaves in the early 2000’s speaks of her school days the time Gangsta’s Paradise was released. She praises its hook that went like ” ….Tell me why are we, so blind to see that the ones we hurt, are you and me? “ . which was a favorite to the girls back in the day because of the message and affection it carried.
Jenkins Mukasa, an artiste from back in the 90’s described Coolio’s Gangsters Paradise as a World Wide mega hit. Being the hard hitting Jenkins that he is, he described Coolio’s Gangster Paradise that he sang about not spending the rest of his time living in as a “Virtual Paradise” that never existed.
Swangz Avenue co- director, Benon Mugumbya remembers Coolio as those artistes that were always on replay on MCM television, one of the first music channels back in the day. Benon says Gangsta’s Paradise was a big song that kept playing many times in the day.
Mun G, a Hip Hop artist in the current times describes Coolio as the real guy that defined Hip Hop. “Coolio had a unique touch of rapp that aimed at story telling, which is the real essence of Hip Hop. His style was calm but yet well articulated in the flow of rhymes” he said
It should be noted that Coolio’s biggest song, Gangsta Paradise was recorded as a main feature in the 1995 film Dangerous Minds. Gangsta’s Paradise, distributed by Tommy Boy Records, a label that launched his career has over the years kept collecting royalties from this project and till his point of death, Coolio kept enjoying revenue from this project. What then does this mean to a Ugandan Artiste?
With the new trends in how music is being consumed today, self publishing and streaming platforms are the way to go, artistes should now adopt Culture of uploading music on digital platforms because billion eyes and ears are out there to consume it, with good music, one is rest assured of music consumption on digital platforms which keeps generating money over the years.