Coolio’s death on Wednesday at age 59 came as a shock to his fans around the world. Artis born rapper Leon Ivey Jr. was found dead on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house, with the official cause of death still pending at press time.
His untimely passing prompted an outpouring of sympathy and condolences from friends, fans and fellow rappers, who praised the artist known for his flipped tresses and signature 1995 Billboard Hot 100.” Gangsta’s Paradise”.
The single spent three weeks at the top of the chart in 1995 and finished as the year-end No. 1 song on the Hot 100. It also reigned on the Hot Rap Songs chart for 11 consecutive weeks and won the Billboard Music Award for Single of the Year, as well as a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. In 2021, “Gangsta’s Paradise” ranked among the 100 Greatest Songs of All Time Hot 100.
But it didn’t just become a karaoke and radio staple; it also inspired dozens of other artists to try their hand at covering the dark, soulful tune that cut the hook from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.” The track, featured in Michelle Pfeiffer’s downtown school drama dangerous spiritswould sell over 3 million copies in the United States and inspire a parody of “Weird Al” Yankovic called “Amish Paradise”.
Al wasn’t the only one who couldn’t resist the song’s siren call, however. It also attracted dozens of other acts to take their own unique swings on the single. From Italian glam rockers Måneskin’s funky bilingual take to YouTube pop singer Kina Grannis’ acoustic ride, Scott Bradlee’s ragtime rip Postmodern Jukebox, Falling in Reverse’s punishing punk homage and a classical guitar version of Luca Stricagnoli.
Oh, and who could forget Johnny Aloha’s Hawaiian guitar version and Brittany Snow’s not-quite-perfect attempt at Ellen? Check out nine inventive covers of “Gangsta’s Paradise” below.