COOLIO Artis Leon Ivey Jr. (born August 1, 1963), better known by the stage name Coolio, is an American musician, rapper, actor and record producer. Dark and tragic – meant to be a criticism of the violance and tragedy of gangster life. Life on the streets Can be seen as a lyrical poem as it is a famous rap song. • American ghettos or any gangster affiliated areas in America. • It can also suggest any other area around the world related to gangsterism. GANGSTA’S PARADISE SLANG: A US term for a member of a criminal group/gang CONTRAST: Gang: violence Paradise: peace For a gangster the street are their paradise As I walk through the valley of the shadow of ALLUSION: death (direct or indirect referal to something that the writer or speaker assumes is common knowledge) Bible; Psalm 23:4 WORD PLAY: VALLEY vs ALLEY I take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left Been spending his life gaining & losing nothing. Figuratively: lost the meaning of life. •The sound made by an explosion. •Good time: an enjoyable occasion of fun and laughter (slang) way of expressing amusement Cause I’ve been blasting and laughing so long that Enjoying gang life Joy or excitement of killing •Mother does not know her own child •He had a personality change due to his gang affiliation (possible drug use) Even my momma thinks that my mind is gone •Kill •Back-stab But I ain’t never crossed a man that didn’t deserve it Informal language & Americanism He never killed/back stabbed a man who showed him respect. Me, be treated like a punk, you know that’s unheard of A young wild, lawless Denies being a lawless person person; does not take responsibility for his actions You better watch how you talking, and where you life lives on the principle of mutual respect. walking Gang Trespassing on a gang’s territory or bad-mouthing them is a sign of disrespect and thus you are warned or killed (look at line 8) Or you and your homies Shortened version of ‘homeboy’: member of a US gang (slang) might be lined in chalk Murder scene I really hate to trip, but I gotta loc’ A drug induced hallucinating experience Informal language: going to He tries to stop but is too dependent on drugs either to forget his problem or give him the capability to do violence. As they croak I see myself in the pistol smoke, fool Slang: to die Deep hoarse sound i.e. the sound his victims make as they die He sees how they die as he shoots them. Silly person; person whose conduct is unwise. Refers to: •Himself •reader I’m the kinda G the Informal language: kind of want to Old initiated gang member The capital letter might even suggest his importance in the gang Older gang member is a roll model for the newer members little homies wanna be like Less important/new gang members or even young children living in the American ghettos On my knees in the night Saying prayers in the street light Might refer to: • Has no home or lives on the street and thus says his prayer on the streets. • On his knees in a execution manner with a gun to his head praying that he won’t be shot Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta’s Paradise Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta’s Paradise REPITION: Born into gangs due to social circumstances Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta’s Paradise Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta’s Paradise REPITION: Stay in gangs because it is a way of life or a choice they made ANSWERS 1. In the title a contrast is present. Violence and danger is associated with the word “gangster”. However, one thinks of peace, happiness and love when you hear the word “paradise”. Therefore, the writer emphasises the point that the streets are their paradise. 2. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” The writer uses the reference to the verse in the Bible to emphasise the turmoil associated with gangster-life. Just like hardship is present in the life of a Christian, it is present in the life of gangsters. Instead of referring to the grace of God that comforts you, the writer refers to his life that has no meaning because of the life he chose. Thus, he may be referring to the idea that there is no room for religion or salvation in the life of a gangster. 3. The writer’s choice of words are the type of words gangsters use or words you associate with gangsterism, for example; gangsta, blasting, punk, croak, ain’t, gotta, kinda, G etc. These words are informal and some are slang words, it creates a relaxed atmosphere because of the disregard of language conventions. The words also contribute towards the mood of the poem, by creating a dark and tragic atmosphere because these words are associated with gangsterism. 4. The life of a gangster mainly takes place on the streets, where there are no societal rules and they mostly have no aim in life. They abuse alcohol and other banned substances and kill people who oppose them, or do not follow the rules of the street. They are subjected to gang violence. 5. The “fool” can either be himself or the readers. It may be the reader, because the speaker insults the reader for not comprehending the obvious (life of the gangster). Or he may insult himself because of the bad choices he makes because of the type of life he leads. 6. The image created is either of the speaker who lives on the street and thus says his prayers on the streets. Or the writer creates a situation where the speaker is on his knees in a execution manner, with a gun to his head, praying that he won’t be shot. 7. To emphasise the cruel nature of the speaker’s life and the point of no return to a normal life for the gangster. The word changes to show that the speaker did not choose this life and must continue this way of life as it is the only one he knows.