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
• American ghettos or
any gangster
affiliated areas in
• It can also suggest
any other area
around the world
related to
A US term for a member of a
criminal group/gang
Gang: violence
Paradise: peace
For a gangster
the street are
their paradise
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of
(direct or indirect referal to
something that the writer or
speaker assumes is common
Bible; Psalm 23:4
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
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
But I ain’t never crossed a man that didn’t deserve it
Informal language &
He never killed/back
stabbed a man who
showed him respect.
Me, be treated like a punk, you know that’s unheard
A young wild, lawless
Denies being a lawless
person; does not take
responsibility for his
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
Refers to:
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
gang members or
even young
children living in
the American
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
Born into
gangs due to
Keep spending most our lives
living in the Gangsta’s Paradise
Keep spending most our lives
living in the Gangsta’s Paradise
Stay in gangs
because it is a
way of life or a
choice they
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
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
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.

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