Before Coolio cooked up caprese salads

Before this:

There was this:

You can tell me this doesn’t absolutely bump, but I simply won’t listen to you. From Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, one of the more unfairly ignored albums of the waning years of G-Funk. Obviously, Coolio’s monolithic hit of the same name has a lot to do with the lack of shine given to the album, but songs like “Bright as the Sun” and “Kinda High Kinda Drunk” display an emcee with ample ability and personality–more than enough to sustain a 17 track album (3 tracks of which are skits, so we don’t really count those anyway). The production is stellar throughout and west coast heroes E-40 and Kam both make appearances (on the same song no less). Sure there are some strange and occasionally awkward missteps (a few too many remakes of songs from the 70s), but on the whole Gangsta’s Paradise is a solid if unspectacular listen throughout. Definitely worth checking, if for no other reason than it was the first CD this erstwhile blogger ever purchased.

You may laugh all you want, but I will guarantee you that Gangsta’s Paradise is far more listenable and cohesive than the majority of albums released today. It hearkens back to a time when just having your shit together and being able to make something that cohered as a unified whole wasn’t enough to be perceived as great. You actually had to craft great, varied songs. Coolio admirably tries his hand and the result is an album that ranks among the second tier of the west coast and still holds up to repeated listens today.

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