Young MC On Coolio: "It's Been Rough On Me"

Young MC Continues To Grapple With Coolio's Death: "Its Been Rough On Me"

Published Thu, February 9, 2023 at 12:00 AM EST

Coolio made a sudden departure for his own gangsta’s paradise in September 2022, leaving his I Love The 90s Tour brethren in a state of shock. After all, they’d just performed together in the weeks before his death, making his passing even more gut-wrenching.

Young MC, who was on the bill with Coolio, Tone Lōc, Vanilla Ice, All 4 One and Kid-N-Play, among others, had grown extremely close to Coolio and considered him a brother. His death has had a profound impact on the “Bust-A-Move” rhymer and served as a harsh reminder of just how fleeting life is. 

“Coolio’s passing has been rough on me, I’ll be honest,” Young MC tells ROCK THE BELLS by phone. “I had just seen him just at a show weeks before and he looked fine. I literally got a call from somebody who saw something online asking me if it was true. Then I reached out to people and found out it was true, and it was devastating.” 

Young MC

It also forced Young MC to reflect further on how he was living his own life. Touring since the 1980s, Young MC often finds himself rushing to an airport for his next cross-country flight, crashing in various hotel rooms and suffering from a lack of sleep. The COVID-19 pandemic only compounded the issues. Once shows were officially back on, he was off to the races. Like Coolio, it was an all encompassing whirlwind of performance commitments, appearances and near-constant travel. 

“Tone and I just had this conversation,” he explains. “We looked at our schedules, and Coolio was basically doing the same thing we were doing in terms of how much we we’re flying and the back-to-back shows. It just made me really reassess my touring schedule and approaches to what I’m doing on the road. I didn’t realize until after the tickets were booked, but I had four U.S. shows in a row and I did 10,000 miles—in four days. Looking at that, I’m like, ‘OK, you can plan it out better.’ Slow it down. Look, there was a lot of pressure on everyone to get back after COVID, so you’re taking whatever dates you can.”

We looked at our schedules, and Coolio was basically doing the same thing we were doing in terms of how much we we’re flying and the back-to-back shows. It just made me really reassess my touring schedule and approaches to what I’m doing on the road."

- Young MC

Young MC realized a lot of the groups that typically performed at stadiums didn’t want to play at half-full venues, so they requested arenas. In turn, the arena groups were relocated to theaters, making the smaller venue circuit really tight. 

“All of a sudden you’re finding more Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday shows and stuff back-to-back across the country,” he adds. “‘Sure, San Diego one day, Maine the next day? No problem.’ That kind of thing. Before, you’d say let’s route this, but you’re so concerned about getting back and doing business. The artists are concerned about getting back and making money at shows. The promoters, agents and venue owners are concerned about getting people in the building and getting the tickets paid for and all those things. 

“So you’re saying, ‘OK, let’s just take whatever gigs we can.’ Then all of a sudden the schedule gets thick and you realize the gigs you’re taking are pretty thick in terms of the scheduling and moving around. And we’re not getting any younger. That was something I kept my eye on after Coolio passed.”

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At 55, Young MC recognizes he’s not as spry as he was in his youth—not that his performances or rhyming capabilities have waned, but he’s acutely aware of his age.

“We all think to a certain extent that we’re bulletproof,” he says. “We all think we’re somewhat immortal. ‘Yeah, just another flight; yeah, just another show; yeah just another set of work.’ When COVID happened, which was 18 months to two years of pretty much nothing, you get back up and you hear, ‘This promoter isn’t around, this venue shut down.’ Then the concern is: ‘Will it get back to where it was in 2017, 2018 and 2019?’” 

Coolio, who died from a cardiac arrest at just 59 years old, was burning the candle at both ends on a regular basis. While Young MC had already taken a vested interest in improving his health, Coolio’s death ramped it up. 

“I was always doing my best to stay healthy,” he says. “I was in the gym. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do much caffeine and I don’t do any drugs, so I had my eyes open in terms of that. Obviously, you tighten it up and try to eat a bit healthier and you make sure you get your rest. I always want to leave the show right after and go back to the hotel and get my rest anyhow. I wanted to have my time and days off.” 

Coolio’s passing also had Young MC take a long, hard look at how he was moving. He adds: “There were some things I turned down logistically. I turned down a couple of good gigs. They were not only lucrative but also good for my career to focus on me, and that was right around the time he passed away. Obviously, he didn’t see it coming and none of us would have seen that coming, and it was a time for me to reevaluate. So the stuff I had on my schedule, I took and then I took time off, and I didn’t take a lot of new stuff. I took half of November and most of December off until the New Year’s gig.”

There’s a sense Young MC wishes Coolio could’ve been there to ring in 2023. As he speaks, his tone periodically grows somber, especially as he reflects on their friendship.

“We became friends mainly off this I Love the 90s Tour,” he explains. “We knew each other and knew of our influence on West Coast hip-hop, and there’s a certain camaraderie especially when you travel East a lot [laughs]. So me, Tone and Coolio were always a trio. When the three of us were on the shows, there was definitely an advantage and you could see it in the crowd attendance. So I’ll miss that in terms of our trio. Coolio was a fun-loving guy and I cherished our friendship greatly. Still, thinking of it stops me in my tracks.” 

Young MC had the opportunity to attend Coolio’s viewing in Los Angeles. But, once again, it was a dizzying trip. He essentially hopped on a plane near his home in Arizona, landing at Los Angeles International Airport wearing a suit, grabbed an Uber to the viewing and flew right back for a blood drive he was doing in Scottsdale. 

“It was important for me to be there,” he says. “It’s been tough. It’s been eyeopening. I feel bad for his family. I feel bad for the guys in his group. They made great friendships and I saw a few of them at the viewing in L.A. It was heartbreaking.” 

Young MC notes it was an open casket, which he wasn’t exactly expecting. It made it extremely difficult for him to properly say goodbye to his friend. 

“It wasn’t really the place,” he admits. “This just shows you the climate that we’re in. Everyone was so concerned about people taking pictures. There were security guards standing over the body to make sure that nobody would walk up with a camera. I understand they have to do their jobs, but at that point, I saw him there, but I didn’t see him there the way I remembered my friend. I’ll share those moments with him by myself, and I know he’ll hear them. But that moment at that time, it was more jarring just seeing the casket. I’ll definitely miss him.”

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