Coolio Talks Cooking, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ And The Legacy He’s Leaving Behind

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Coolio is a man of many interests. The multi-hyphenate cooks, raps, appears on reality shows, and has done a fair share of film and TV work. At 52 years old, he’s not slowing down, with a tour ongoing — alongside a number of ’90s acts like Kid ‘N Play, Salt-n-Pepa, and Rob Base — and an appearance on the Bravo cooking show, Recipe for Deception, where he’ll face-off against reality TV rival Lou Diamond Phillips. In between those obligations, Coolio took some time out to speak with Uproxx about his acting style, cooking, and rapping on arguably one of the biggest rap singles of all-time.

Where were you and what were you doing when you first heard the beat for “Gangsta’s Paradise?”

I was at my manager’s house. I was over there to pick up some paperwork — I had to sign a check. As I was getting ready to leave and I walked passed the studio and I heard the beat playing so I walked in the studio and I sat there and listened for a minute. LV was working out the hook, you know; he was playing around with it. I asked the producer, “Whose beat is this?” He said, “It’s just something I’m working on.” First, I started freestyling to it, and actually said the first line: “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothing left.” And then I sat down, grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. Just like that. When I started writing it, I never picked a pen up. I didn’t even have to sit back and think about the words. It just came to me all at once. It was like I already knew the song.

What is Coolio listening to these days?

I’m bumping stuff that I’m working on, some artists that I’m working with. I’m bumping some A.I., which is my son. Some Prince Royale. I’m bumping some Hopsin. Actually, I like Meek Mill. I’m bumping a lot of classic stuff. I’m not a big Rae Sremmurd — most of the stuff that (they) do I’m not really feeling, but I like the stripper song. I like the hook. My stereo is quite diverse.

When I first saw Daredevil (2003), I thought the film could use more Coolio. You were in the director’s cut, but why weren’t you in the original version?

I think because it was too long. They had to cut parts out. That part wasn’t important to the story. It’s all good: I still got paid. That was the important part to me. It wasn’t a great movie anyway. The Daredevil (Netflix) TV series is much better than the movie.

So what’s more difficult: playing yourself on TV or acting in a role for film?

I find neither of them to be hard. They’re both equally… I haven’t come across that role that’s really challenged me yet. I’m hoping to do a few things on my own. You haven’t seen me much lately, because I’m not really trying to do other people’s films anymore, playing the roles they try to give me — a gangster, or some dude with a gun, or some dude going to jail or getting shot. I’m trying to do some other kind of stuff now. And the only way I’m going to do that is to do my own stuff. Even if I have to go straight to DVD with my stuff, I don’t have a problem with that. When I do that, people will get to see my true acting skills. I got some really good ideas and some good stuff I’m doing in the next 12 months or so. And then, maybe they’ll call me and give me a role that’s worthy of my talent.

How would you describe yourself as an actor?

I am diverse. I can do anything. Play any role. I can be funny. I can be dramatic. I can be crazy. Of course, you know I can be gangster.

You’re starring in Bravo’s celebrity edition of Recipe for Deception this week. If you could cook a dish for three celebrities, who would it be, and what dish would you cook?

One would definitely be Obama, so he would tell people about my food and that’s how we’d get paid. Beyoncé — I’d cook for “Jayonce,” you know cause Jay and Beyoncé are one person. I’d cook for Oprah, so she can talk about me on her show. I’d cook Oprah some chicken; I’d keep it simple. For Jay and Beyoncé, actually I’d cook them some fish.

What do you want to be remembered for when you’re gone? 

Hey, the only thing I truly wanna be remembered for: I want people to say that he was a real motherfucker that was hella cool. I wanna be remembered for just being a cool ass person. And being intelligent. If people don’t remember my music, my cooking, or my film work, it doesn’t matter. I just want people to say, ‘That was a cool motherfucker and he always tried to educate me. He was always talking about something that was gonna make me a better person.’ I said it once and I will say it again: Don’t do as I do, do as I say. I’ve made hella mistakes in my life, and I’ll probably make some more. Those that I try to teach, they’re not allowed to make the same mistakes that I’ve made — that’s why I’ve made them so you don’t have to.

Catch Coolio on Bravo’s Recipe for DeceptionThursday February 25, at 10/9c.