Why Gangsta Paradise is Stuck In My Head Today

May 17, 2023

Back before the days of blogs and digital images, Mrs theskinnyonbenny and I got married and took a follow-up trip to Ireland.

We toured around for a bit and happened to end up in Dublin at the same time that then-president Clinton was in town.

You young uns won't remember, but back in the day, terrorists would occasionally blow up buildings in Ireland in an effort to unite Northern Ireland (which was and is part of the UK) with Ireland. Clinton was around to get some credit for some treaty having to do with this little spat. I could probably be less vague if I read the article that I linked there, but I'm not gonna.

Anyway, more than one Dubliner heard our hillbilly American accents, and naturally asked if we were in town with the presidential delegation.

That was annoying, but more annoying was how often the radio played Coolio's Gangsta Paradise. I would guess that no song has ever been that big a hit in Ireland before or since. At first it was funny, as I had no notion as a stupid young American that anyone across the pond had even been exposed to hip-hop. But were they ever exposed.

This week, I see headlines pop up about the Inflation Reduction Act (which I know even less about than Irish terrorism), and some of the headlines call it the "IRA". IRA was also the name of the Irish terrorist bomber organization, and thus, I'm reminded of our Ireland trip.

And that, my friends, is why I can't get Gangsta Paradise out of my head this week.


In some alternate universe, I started music blogging in 2004 instead of writing about asinine things that I had on my mind back then. In that universe, I can was on for hours about the genius of some indy band that no one ever heard of, and I have a show on Sirius XMU that airs at 2:00 AM every Sunday.

In that universe, I am very poor.

At one point last year, I decided that I was going to listen to all of Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time, and write up a sentence or two about them. I ended up hating -- and I mean absolutely hating like you hate dead bunny rabbits -- albums number 2 and 3.

I know it's my own shortcoming. There are artists that I adore who talk about those albums inspiring them to make music. But I made myself listen to them 3 or 4 times each, and it was self-torture.

Album #4 was Stevie Wonder's Songs in they Key of Life which I loved so much that I abandoned my project before making it 1% of the way in and listened to Stevie's lifetime of work instead. And the first time I listened to Songs in the Key of Life all the way through, I found out that Gangsta Paradise is just Coolio rapping on top of Stevie's Pastime Paradise. So maybe that's really the song stuck in my head.

I swear, sometimes these posts wrap themselves up without me even having to try. .