Interview: Coolio

A&E caught up with the ’90s rap icon before his Jan. 25 gig at The Fine Line. Drink in the subsequent wackiness.

by Jay Boller

Coolio WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 23 WHERE: Fine Line Music Café, 318 North 1st Avenue If it wasnâÄôt for a hilariously ironic cookbook release last fall, rapper Coolio might have evaporated into the campy cultural ether that is the âÄò90s. The cookbook in question, âÄúCookinâÄô With Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price ,âÄù reintroduced the self-described âÄúGhetto GourmetâÄù to a generation he parted ways with following âÄúKenan & Kel.âÄù And the Coolio re-awakening is a good thing, especially considering the emceeâÄôs take on the culinary arts-bestowed fusions like âÄúGhettalianâÄù cuisine, dishes like chicken lettuce blunts and quotes like, âÄúEverything I cook tastes better than yoâÄô mommaâÄôs nipplesâÄù onto the world. But Coolio never stopped rapping. He still tours, loves doing it and feels pop culture at large shorted him when it comes to his rightful place in gangstardom. Still, the âÄúGangstaâÄôs ParadiseâÄù scribe never comes off bitter; instead, heâÄôs heart-on-sleeve thoughtful and disarmingly funny. The perennially zany-haired rapper sat with A&E backstage prior to his recent show at the Fine Line to talk drugs, righteous serial killings and, of course, the identity of God. Tell me what itâÄôs like playing Minneapolis. Finest bitch I ever touched in my life, before 35 [years-old], is here âÄî light skin, long hair, green eyes, bad as a mother [expletive]. But no, Minneapolis is a good town to play, man. People here appreciate music because Prince is from here. What takes up most of your time these days? I just released my cookbook, Nov. 17. So a lot of my time is devoted to cooking. I do creation on Thursdays. I go in the kitchen and make up new recipes, try new, different [expletive]. I have a bunch of people over and let âÄòem try my [expletive], get some critiquing and I write down everything. About two or three days during the week I work on music. I work on music in my free time. WhatâÄôs the most important part of being a kitchen pimp? I learned that term in your book. Keeping your hands clean. Weed obviously makes food taste better, so is weed incorporated in any part of being a kitchen pimp? I donâÄôt smoke a lot of weed anymore. IâÄôm kinda drug free these days. I hit a joint here and there, but I donâÄôt really do drugs anymore, man. IâÄôm getting too old; IâÄôm 46 years old. Drugs are not conducive to a long life. What is the highest point of your career and whatâÄôs the lowest point? The highest point in my career IâÄôd probably have to say was the Grammy . Winning the Grammy. The lowest point was last year; I got caught in the airport with drugs that wasnâÄôt even mine. I donâÄôt even smoke weed no more. At that time, I was going on two years without even smoking weed and I get caught with some [expletive] crack in my bag. [Goes into lengthy explanation of how a family memberâÄôs crack got into his bag]. It hurt my heart more than anything, like [expletive], I canâÄôt believe this [expletive]. I had to sit down and talk to my kids about it and explain it to âÄòem; it was a terrible thing for me. That was the lowest point of my career. When people hear the name Coolio, what do you hope comes to mind? When people think of my name, I want them to say âÄòThatâÄôs a cool mother[expletive]. HeâÄôs cool as [expletive]. I like him; heâÄôs real people.âÄô How has rap changed since you got in the game in the early âÄò90s.? Rap is all about the visual now. ItâÄôs all about the perception of what a person is versus what their lyrics describe them to be or what, in reality, they really are. Every once in a while, I have people say, âÄòYeah, yeah, I love them old school âĦâÄô IâÄôm not old school, bro. The old school is Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Sugarhill Gang âÄî thatâÄôs old school. IâÄôm from the golden era, bro. Think about it: IâÄôm from the golden era of rap. When I came into the game, 2Pac was alive, Biggie was alive, Method Man was hot, Q was still hot, Snoop Dogg was just coming up. I had to compete against the greatest rappers of all time, bro, and I held my own. I held my own strong for all those years. I was consistent. No pun intended, but I kinda got a bad rap because I was so accessible. I was so open, ya know, about my life and what I have been through. It has been a little difficult to take that sometimes, you know? I did a lot for hip-hop and I donâÄôt get a lot of credit. IâÄôm not bitter about it, but I have to be honest; IâÄôm a man, IâÄôm only human, and it [expletive] bothers me sometimes. They did the top-50 emcees on VH1 and IâÄôm even in the top 50. There are mother[expletive] in the top 50 who are not fit to hold my old school microphone cord. Artistically, what keeps you going? I love to rap. Three of my sons rap, my daughter sings, my nephew raps; my family is real musical âÄî weâÄôre very creative. We got the creative gene hard. ThatâÄôs what keeps me going, my famâÄô, man. They respect what I do; they like what I do and theyâÄôre honest. After all these years, do you get the same feeling when youâÄôre really killing it live? IâÄôm more controlled now, versus back in the day. The best way to describe it is IâÄôm like this energy-gathering dynamo. I suck in the energy from the crowd and right at the point theyâÄôre drained, ready to slump over and fall over and pass out, I bring it to a crescendo and [expletive] shoot it all back at âÄòem. And then IâÄôm [expletive] slumped over and ready to pass out and theyâÄôre energized and ready for the next artist or end of the party or whatever. WhoâÄôs the best rapper of all time? DonâÄôt know yet. Ask me that when IâÄôm diagnosed with a terminal disease or I got six months to live, or whatever. Ask me that when IâÄôm on death row. In my waning years, when it gets to the point I know IâÄôm gonna die, IâÄôm gonna become a serial killer. IâÄôm gonna be a serial killer before I die. IâÄôm going to kill, like, rapists, [expletive] child molesters and [expletive] like that. ThatâÄôs gonna be my last job. I gotta ask, are you [joking] around when you say that? No IâÄôm serious. IâÄôm so serious. My worst enemy: if I saw someone [expletive] around with his kids, IâÄôd kill him, too. What does a true gangstaâÄôs paradise look like? A compound in South Africa with seven servants âÄî all women. Sitting in front of the T.V. with the remote right there and me ringing the bell and telling âĦ Tywanita âĦ to come and [expletive] turn the T.V. And she has to drive a golf cart from a half a mile away on the other side of the compound to turn the television and hand me my [expletive] glass of lemonade. WeâÄôre a college paper, so what advice do you have for the graduating class? Really pay attention. Make your own decisions. Decide for yourself whatâÄôs true and whatâÄôs not true. So many things that I was taught to believe in, when I got older I found out were [expletive] lies. And so many things I thought were lies were the [expletive] truth. I donâÄôt believe in religion at all. IâÄôm not an atheist; I believe thereâÄôs a God, but I donâÄôt know him. I donâÄôt know his name and I donâÄôt think anyone here can tell me who he is. Religion, to me, is written doctrine, created by man to control other men, women and children. Another thing IâÄôm gonna do, before I die, IâÄôm gonna start a church. What kinda church? Reverend CoolâÄôs Church of Divine Truth in the Spirit of Financial Freedom. WhatâÄôs the main tenet behind that? To make money, straight up. WhatâÄôs your epitaph gonna read? Here lies a cool mother[expletive].