Best known for her roles in Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect, the Australian actor Rebel Wilson has always been in touch with her musical side, with the latter production providing some of cinema’s finest singing moments. And it would seem that her penchant for a pop tune doesn’t just stay in her professional life.
Like the rest of us, when given the chance to jump up on the mic and drop a little bit of karaoke, Wilson is always game to get going. However, while you might have expected the actor to dive into a repertoire of pop music, her real love is rap. For her go-to karaoke song, Wilson would always pick Coolio’s classic ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’.
“I love rap music and used to have a little rap group with my sister when we were, like, 12,” Wilson told NME. “We were pretty bad but we used to mainly do Kris Kross or Will Smith songs. I’m not ever good at knowing the words. Some people are really good at hearing songs and being able to sing them, but I’m very terrible at learning the words. But with ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, I always remember every word. You gotta be confident when you get up and do karaoke, so really, you gotta know the words.”
Few songs are as intrinsically linked to a movie as Coolio’s 1995 anthem ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ and the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds. For a while, in the mid-90s, it was sincerely impossible to walk down any street without hearing this song blasting out of a stereo. It became an anthem and is rightly considered the greatest hip hop track ever made for a film.
The track is a reworking of Stevie Wonder’s classic ‘Pastime Paradise’ and sees Coolio drop some street knowledge on a sensational beat. “I wasn’t really familiar with ‘Pastime Paradise,’ as much of a Stevie Wonder fan as I was,” Coolio explained to Rolling Stone. “My very first album I ever bought was the one with ‘Superwoman’ on it. [1972’s Music of My Mind.] I got that for my 12th birthday, that one and Fight the Power by the Isley Brothers. Songs in the Key of Life, my mother had that album at the house, so it was kind of weird that I didn’t know the song.
Coolio said of the writing process: “I sat down and I started writing. Hearing the bass line, the chorus line and the hook, it just opened up my mind. ‘As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I take a look at my life and I see there’s nothing left’ — I freestyled that; that came off the top of the dome, and I wrote that down.
“I thought about it for a minute,” he continued, “and then I wrote the whole rest of the song without stopping, from the first verse to the third verse. You know, I like to believe that it was divine intervention. ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ wanted to be born; it wanted to come to life, and it chose me as the vessel.
Listen to Rebel Wilson’s go-to karaoke song, Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ below.