NT: So you're using your youth as an excuse?
Coolio: It wasn't that I was a kid. It was just that I was broke. Shit, we had to eat.

NT: Speaking about eating, "Can-O-Corn," one of your raps that talks about having only one can of corn to eat, looks like it's going to be a classic anthem.

Coolio: I'm hoping so. I mean, I work hard as fuck; I work hard every day. I take this real seriously. I got respect for hip-hop. I never disrespect it, and I've always been true to it. And I guess that's why I'm doing well now, because I took my time and waited.

NT: The track "Ugly Bitches" is hilarious, but what do you say to people like C. Deloris Tucker and Dionne Warwick who are against misogynist lyrics?

Coolio: Okay. You know, actually that song is all about fun. And it's about ugly. When I say ugly, I use a lot of physical characteristics, but everybody knows that ugly comes from the inside. The people who have sense know that. So really, that's what I meant. And actually, the song came from one of my homies. He was messing with this girl that was just . . . stripped. I mean stripped. She didn't have no extras. She was like a bucket without a mop. She didn't have any brains, she had no common sense, she didn't have anything. She didn't have a body, her face was like . . . she looked like those MTV cartoon characters from Brothers Grunt. She was loud, she drank Cisco and shit--that's crack in a bottle. Really, I hadn't met her yet. Some of my homies was raggin' on her, and I was laughing so hard. Then they made a videotape of them talking about her, and they were so funny. It was like--flash! I said, "I gotta write this song."

NT: Would you consider your music to be gangsta rap?
Coolio: Nah, it's entertainment. I do it for fun. I do it for money, and I do it for love. Not necessarily in that order. I've been rapping for so long, if I didn't get paid for it, I'd do it for free. So since rapping does pay, I must insist I get all my cookies.

NT: Why do you think gangsta rap became so big?
Coolio: 'Cause it's real, and because the music was dope. Simple as that. The lyrics were dope. It's entertainment. That's what people need to realize. Why can't muthafuckas talk about killing and shooting up? Why not? Shit, they do it on TV. But nobody says we got to ban NYPD Blue. Here's one: What's killing people faster than guns? AIDS, right? Sex. So why muthafuckas like R. Kelly [an R&B singer whose music contains heavily sexual lyrics] don't get banned? We got kids around here gettin' hot and shit and wanna do it [have sex], and then they do it and they don't use a condom, they don't use protection, and they get pregnant or catch AIDS or whatever. But ain't nobody banning Prince. Ain't nobody banning Madonna, the porno fucking queen. So it's all entertainment.

NT: Are you a member of a gang?
Coolio: I don't gang bang. I'm a member of M.A.A.D. Circle. I'm with M.A.A.D. Circle for life. I've always been a rapper. I've been an emcee all my life. I mean ever since I was old enough to develop a real personality. Though I've experimented with gang banging, I never actually did anything. I wasn't out there doing drive-bys and shit, wearing colors and hitting muthafuckas everywhere I went. So I wasn't banging. I experimented by banging in the 'hood here and there. We'd go to the malls and have a fight. When I was coming up, it wasn't about shooting and killing. It was just a test of manhood to see who could knock out who. Or who could put the most lumps on the next man. Somebody got stuck or hit with a stick. But it wasn't about guns. When shit started to change and evolved to what it is today, I knew that it was bullshit and it was time for me to stop. That was about 13 years ago.

NT: A lot of people are blaming violence on gangsta rap. What would you blame?

Coolio: I blame violence on the world. Because the world is a violent place. Violence is necessary. Violence is a part of life. Everybody's running around talking about peace. Since the beginning, it's been a struggle between good and evil. And in order to have peace, you must have war. It's been proven over and over again. I don't know why people keep bullshitting and playing themselves. If we want peace, we gotta have war. We need a common cause. Nobody's ever gonna be down with each other unless they have a common cause. Now, being a black man and being that I come from the land of Africa and all my people are dark skin, we have a common bond, and we're supposed to stick together, but we don't.

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