L.V (April 2009) | Interview By:
Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser|
Today, one of the most successful songs in hip-hop history almost never was. The song in
reference is called “Gangsta’s Paradise” and if it weren’t for the persistence of the original
song owner, L.V, the world would have never experienced such a smash single. The song could
have been performed with Prodeje from South Central Cartel, who L.V. first reached out to for
the rap parts, however, schedules got in the way. Then, L.V. had to literally follow Coolio
around for weeks to get him to do the song.
Dubcnn got the opportunity to sit down with L.V. Mr. Large Variety, one of the original members
of the infamous South Central Cartel, to reflect back on “Gangsta’s Paradise”—the paradigm shift
that has since left its mark on hip-hop forever. In this Dubcnn exclusive, L.V. shares with us
his own personal feelings on his partner, Coolio’s recent and highly-publicized troubles with the
law as he gets transparent and opens up about his near-death experience many years ago, to his
current rebirth back into music through LRT Music Group.
In the meantime, click here to take a journey back in time with Dubcnn and check out Coolio, LV and
Stevie Wonder doing an amazing live performance of this Guinness Book of World Record hit song,
Coolio, L.V & Stevie Wonder - Gangstas Paradise Live (1995 Billboard Awards) Click Here
Special Thanks to Lisa Thomas for making this interview happen!
As ever, be sure to leave your feedback in our forums or email them to email@example.com.
Interview was done in April 2009
Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser
Dubcnn Exclusive – L.V
The Original Gangsta speaks about Paradise and Adversity
By: Jonathan Hay And Chad Kiser
Dubcnn: What’s new in the world of LV?
L.V: Right now, I’m just on my way to the studio trying to finish up my new project
for LRT Music Group.
Dubcnn: What’s up with your man Coolio?
L.V: I don’t know what’s going on with Coolio, honestly, that was just a big and unfortunate
mishap that happened to him. I wasn’t with him [when he was arrested], so I don’t know how true
it is. But, if it is true, everybody makes mistakes. The media put it out there for more than
what it is. Like I said, I don’t really know, but I’m pretty sure Coolio has straightened his
Dubcnn: We all read and heard the news coverage about the Coolio crack possession at L.A.X and
his other incident in England…
L.V: I didn’t hear about any incident in England. Honestly, I haven’t talked to Coolio since
last year around Christmas time. At that point, he was excited about his new reality show and his
Dubcnn: What do you think about his incident at L.A.X?
L.V: I was really surprised at what happened. Look, I know Coolio and I do not know him for
really getting down like that with crack-cocaine, so that was really hard for me to swallow. It
is so hard for me to believe it, because like I said, I know Coolio and he is a good dude. I don’t
see crack being a part of his life. I don’t think it’s true, but I don’t really know at the same time.
What can I say though is; when you are out there doing your thing, you really have to be careful…
You have to watch what you’re doing at all times and whom you are doing it around.
Dubcnn: So, are you and Coolio still cool?
L.V: Yeah man that’s my buddy! That’s my boy… I got big respect for Coolio, I really do.
Dubcnn: The song you all did, “Gangsta’s Paradise” is one of the biggest songs in hip-hop history.
How did that even come about?
L.V: At the time, I was signed to Tommy Boy and Doug Rasheed and I got together at Coolio’s
manager, Paul Stewart’s [of PMP ] house and Doug put the track on, and it had the rhythm from
Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder on it and I just immediately started doing choir parts, so,
Doug and I went in and recorded it. I recorded the choir parts that you hear in the background
and then I recorded my part (starts singing hook to Gangsta’s Paradise). After my parts were
recorded, I wanted to get a rapper on it. The first person I reached out to was my friend,
Prodeje [from South Central Cartel], but he couldn’t do it because he was already out and doing
something at another studio. So, Paul suggested that I should get Coolio on the song. So I got
up with Coolio and I told him that I really needed him to get on this cut I had. So, like 3 days
go by, and again, I reached out to Coolio and told him I really need him to get on this song.
He said, he was going to call me, so then like two or three weeks go by and I haven’t heard from
him still. Finally, I see him at the studio, and I had him sit down and put on the headphones
and listen to it. He started rapping some lines, and immediately I knew that was it. At that
point, I’m excited and really wanting to get the song together. Basically, that’s how the song
came about and I had to follow Coolio around for a minute to get him on that song. In the
beginning, Doug Rasheed actually did the song for me and it was originally my song, but I guess
the people at Tommy Boy figured that Coolio was the bigger figure out there and that he more in
the limelight, so they wanted to put it on his album… But, honestly, I was like wait; I wanted
to put it on my album because it was my song. So anyway, I was like whatever… They put it on
his album, and then I put my own version on my album - - my “I Am L.V.” album. So, that is how
the song came out, but by the grace of God, the song did well for both of us. I wasn’t bitter
at Coolio, just a little bitter at the label on how they did me. They just took my song and said
it was Coolio’s song and this and that, and that and the other, like pushing me all the way to
the side… but that is all way behind me now. Really, without Doug Rasheed, the song wouldn’t have
even existed, because he is the one that produced the track for us to begin with.
Dubcnn: Is “Gangsta’s Paradise” still a moneymaker? Do you still receive royalties for the song?
L.V: Yes’ sir!!! (Laughs)
Dubcnn: That is amazing L.V!
L.V: The song did so well; it went to the Guinness Book of World Records. It was a blessing…
Dubcnn: You are in the Guinness Book of World Records?
L.V: Yes, for “Gangsta’s Paradise” and that is a beautiful thing right there. A little fat kid
out of the ghetto, who started with the South Central Cartel, is doing well. The next biggest thing
was to actually perform it live with Stevie Wonder at the Billboard Awards. That was unbelievable, man!!!
Dubcnn: What was that like?
L.V: That was like a kid in the candy store. I didn’t know what to think… I’m standing here
next to Stevie Wonder! That was beyond one of my wildest dreams. Right now, to this day, I can
walk up to Stevie Wonder and start humming, and he’ll say, “what’s happening L.V.” He
knows my voice and that is so crazy to me.
Dubcnn: Do you think there is ever a chance that you will work with Coolio again?
L.V: Yea, for sure! I’m trying to get him on one my songs now for this new album on LRT.
That’s my boy…
Dubcnn: Going back to Coolio’s arrest, have you ever known him to be involved with crack?
L.V: I’ve been knowing Coolio for the longest and I’ve never known of him messing with that
stuff. I don’t believe it at all. Maybe they [media] are just trying to tear him down and I
can’t understand why they have made such a big deal about it. With that said, everybody makes
mistakes and you need to push on past that.
Dubcnn: I have another “Gangsta’s Paradise” question, after Coolio laid down his rap parts
and everyone was in the studio and you are listening back to the song on the monitors, did you
know you had something special when you heard it for the first few times…
L.V: Do you know that I can actually tell you yes… I felt it in my bones and this is the
God’s honest truth, I felt it in my gut that it was going to be something special. Do you know
at first, a lot of people heard it and they said it was wack! When I played the demo for some
people, they didn’t like it… I didn’t listen to none of them; because I had the feeling, it was
going to be something really big!
Dubcnn: How did you all feel when Weird Al Yankovic did “Amish Paradise”?
L.V: You know what, I can’t lie; Coolio did get a little mad at that. I wasn’t at all because,
if Weird Al didn’t make Michael Jackson mad -- who had been the man forever, then why should I be
mad? All he was really doing was making it bigger for us! He just really made it better for us.
Dubcnn: When Weird Al Yankovic does a cover of your song, then honestly, you are doing something right…
L.V: That’s what I mean… He did mockeries of people like Michael Jackson and Madonna - - and
here we are from the ghetto of South Central and he is doing us!!! I’m not mad at that at all.
Dubcnn: Switching gears, back in the day, you survived a same incident like 50 Cent did?
L.V: Yea, I was shot 9 times and I’m blessed to still be here to talk about the incident.
I wasn’t supposed to walk anymore and they were talking about cutting off my leg. I got a
bullet in my back, all up and down my thighs, but you know… I’m here. I spent 8 months in
the hospital and a year and half in a wheel chair. The doctors told me I wasn’t going to walk
again and they needed to amputate my leg. The hole that was in my leg was as round as a
Folgers Can -- you remember back in the day, those old round Folders coffee cans, that is how
big the hole was. Anyway, when the bullet hit my leg, it went straight through to the bone, and
ricocheted up to my thigh. I had the holes in my stomach, back and side. I was messed up for
a long time. But that ain’t nothing but God. God kept me here for a reason.
Dubcnn: What a testimony.
L.V: Yeah man. I am blessed.
Dubcnn: What’s going on with your new project?
L.V: I can’t wait for you all to hear this new music I am doing… Can you all come to the studio?
Dubcnn: We will definitely come check it out soon, but in words, what is the sound of your new music?
L.V: It’s a whole different twist from my other stuff. People won’t expect it and realize that
is even me. Of course, it’s L.V. - which stands for Large Variety, because I do all types of music.
I’m really excited about this new music!
Dubcnn: When will the new music be released?
L.V: I am releasing it through LRT Music Group, which is under Universal. And speaking of LRT,
I also have this song with rapper, Seven from the same label. The song is Seven, Spider Loc and
myself and it’s called, “Summertime”. Make sure you check that out!
Dubcnn: We are all looking forward to hearing some new music from you.
L.V: The music I’m doing right now is for everybody to hear; all ages and nationalities… I’ll
tell you this, the more humble you are, the better the music, so I’ll let the music speak.