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February is African American Heritage Month and WERS AT NIGHT is honoring one artist or one song every day this month that helped contribute to social consciousness, political responsibility, or civil rights. At WERS, we believe that these songs are always bigger than just entertainment; music can be used to drive a movement or even motivate a nation.
Coolio, born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., was a popular African American male rapper during the 90’s. He is most commonly known for his song, “Gangsta’s Paradise” which was released in 1995 and remained on Billboards Hot 100 as a number one song for three weeks.
In 1997 Coolio released his third album, My Soul featuring “C U When U Get There” as its first single. The single was also included as part of the soundtrack to Nothing to Lose. Unlike many traditional rap songs, “C U When U Get There” openly comments about and criticizes the repeating violence and drug conditions that plague and disenfranchise black communities. Throughout the song, Coolio ironically raps in juxtaposition with Pachebel’s Canon in D Major. He uses the connotation classical music has with white American lifestyles to encourage an idea of tangible social equality between black and white communities. Included in the single is a gospel choir singing the chorus lines, “I’ll see you when you get there/ If you ever get there…” This choir provides a sense of unity amongst people, rather than division—hope for social progress. In “C U When U Get There”, Coolio distinguishes himself as a member of the black community but separates himself from racial and cultural stereotypes in order to dissolve the stigmas surrounding African Americans.
Although, society has progressed since the release of this song, there is till prejudice and racial division existing between people today. But hopefully we will “C U When U Get There”.