Famous for his 1995 mega- hit Gangsta’s Paradise, Coolio says that multi-instrumentalist Evan Kennedy constantly challenges him in the studio.
“Evan is a smart kid, a talented kid,” Coolio tells Shuffle during a break from recording a new track this week called Notice Me.
“He pushes me in the studio and I respect that as well. I don’t have a lot of ‘yes men’ around me. I’m always looking for a kid who will motivate me. I take criticism pretty well, it’s not a problem for me.
“Evan goes all out because he really cares about the music. He cares about what it sounds like. He’s not just trying to catch a pay cheque.”
Coolio has previously recorded with Dublin hip hop duo Versatile, who also work with Evan Kennedy.
“They’re my little brothers,” the rap icon says of Versatile. “They were the first kids I heard from Ireland that were embracing their accent and I respected that.
“Later on I had a show at the Irish horse racing track (Leopardstown) and they came backstage, and the rest is history, man. We hit it off instantly. The next thing I know we were in the studio. Then I started working with their agent who books their tours. It was a match made in heaven.”
Coolio says he loves Dublin city. “I usually stay in the centre where the action is. I like the atmosphere of Dublin. It’s an experience being in the centre. Not only do you run into a lot of Irish people, but you run into all other kinds of people from all walks of life and all kind of different countries. That helps me to write about all kinds of different subjects.”
He enjoys mingling with people. “Yeah I do. I’m not afraid. I’m not looking for a bunch of new friends or anything, but I definitely like associating with people. I’m one of those cats that doesn’t like to be alone. I get bored with myself. I don’t take myself that seriously.”
And Coolio says he’s constantly recognised. ”Oh every other person. Just walking down the street in Dublin, in the course of a day I’ll take at least 50 pictures.”
He doesn’t surround himself with security. “Most of the time I’m just with DJ Wino who is my DJ and producer for the last 30 years and he’s like my DJ/bodyguard.”
Coolio admits that for a period in his career he lost his mojo. “I had a period where I wasn’t sure why I was still doing the music, and I hadn’t put out an album in quite some time,” he tells me.
“Now I’m working on a new album and that’s not because I’m into the money or anything. It’s first and foremost because I’m motivated again to do music and I’m doing it for myself.
“I vowed to myself many years ago that if it ever got to the point where I was just doing it for the money then I would quit. Being around people like Evan and being around DJ Wino helps me stay relevant and stay sharp and keep my skills sharp. They make it easy for me.”
Although he got caught up in drugs, including crack cocaine, back in the day, Coolio says he feels fortunate to have come through it all.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” the rapper acknowledges.
“I’ve been through some sh*t. It wasn’t easy by any means, but a lot of the bad things that happened to me were my fault. I could have avoided quite a bit of it. I put myself in that position. You reap what you sow and you suffer the consequences of your actions.”