Official Charts Flashback 1995: Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise

The US rapper's breakthrough hit took over the world 25 years ago this week.

Gangsta's Paradise was one of those songs that, for the second half of 1995, took over the world. Its blend of introspective lyrics, a gospel-inspired singalong chorus and its hook - sampled from Stevie Wonder's Pastime Paradise - proved the perfect mix for a global smash. 

Released in UK 25 years ago this week (following its August release in America), Gangsta's Paradise was released to tie in with Michelle Pfeiffer movie Dangerous Minds. The song and its memorable video (which heavily featured Pfeiffer) quickly eclipsed the film itself and ultimately broke new ground for hip-hop in the mainstream. 

Debuting at Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart, Gangsta's Paradise went on to become the UK's second best-selling single of 1995 with 882,261 sales, behind Robson & Jerome's million-selling Unchained Melody/White Cliffs Of Dover. In America, it was the top selling song that year, shifting 3 million.

The track went on to win a Grammy in 1996 for Best Rap Performance and was nominated for Record Of The Year, but lost out to Seal's Kiss From A Rose. It's global popularity was cemented when, that same year, it was parodied by Weird Al Yankovic and renamed Amish Paradise.

Coolio said the song came together quickly in one sitting, having freestyled its opening lines "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/ I take a look at my life and realise there's nothing left." To clear the sample of Pastime Paradise - a track from his 1976 album Songs In The Key Of Life - Stevie Wonder insisted Coolio remove any profanities from the song, of which there were originally quite a few.

Total UK chart sales of Gangsta's Paradise in 2020 stand at just over 2 million. Since streaming was introduced in 2014, the track has notched up just shy of 80 million plays.

It was Coolio's first UK Top 40 single and remains his only Number 1 single. His follow-up single, Too Hot, became his second of four Top 10 singles. View Coolio's Official UK Chart history in full.

Elsewhere in the Official Singles Chart Top 40 that week, Coolio held off competition from Meat Loaf, who was new at 2 with I'd Lie For You (And That's The Truth), and Everything But The Girl's now-signature hit Missing was a new entry at Number 8. 

Further down, Cher's Walking In Memphis just missed out on a Top 10 debut, landing at Number 11, and Alanis Morissette Hand In My Pocket was new at 26 - it's UK peak. 

View the Official Singles Chart Top 100 from this week in 1995

Listen to the Official Singles Chart Top 40 from this week in 1995 on Spotify below. 

The playlist is also available on: Apple Music | Deezer