Coolio's Star Fades in U.S., But Shines Abroad

Last summer, the Faroe Islands -- a remote archipelago populated by puffin and sheep in the middle of the Norwegian Sea -- was a "Gangsta's Paradise."

There, 1990s rapper Coolio appeared alongside pop singer Crystal Waters of "Gypsy Woman" fame in a local auditorium that could hold no more than 1,000 fans. The event was scheduled right after the national holiday commemorating the death of Saint Olaf.

"The arrival of these two names doesn't make my fingers tingle," someone wrote on "But I hope they'll enjoy their stay, and that a lot of people will go and listen to them."

Apparently, they did. And even with a 50 to 1 ratio of sheep to humans in this one-time Danish colony, the audience was overwhelmingly human.

Coolio, a one-hit wonder when "Gangsta's Paradise" made a splash in 1995, launched his career more than a quarter century ago in 1979, but he and other D-list rappers are finding lucrative opportunities in the most unlikely venues overseas.

Just last week, the New York Post's Page 6 spotted Coolio during a three-hour delay on a Delta airlines flight from LaGuardia Airport en route to Russia for what the paper reported was a billionaire's party.

"He came back from first class to harangue his entourage," the newspaper reported. "He was worried they were going to miss their connection."

Coolio, 44, corrected the newspaper's version of events, claiming he was actually headed for a fashion show performance, and the suggestion that he was rude was "hateful."

'I'm Still Here'

"I'm still here, I am not going anywhere," Coolio told "I can go song for song, show for show against anyone on the planet. All the haters out there, the critics, I don't give a ----. Hating makes me strong and gives me the power to write better."

Coolio isn't the only rapper finding a second act abroad: Vanilla Ice and Cisqo are now on tour in Australia. Like Hollywood actors whose stars fade -- from David Hasselhoff of "Baywatch" to Tara Reid of "American Pie" -- their stars still glimmer in other countries.

Mike Esterman, Coolio's booking agent, confirmed that the rapper performs for top dollar "more overseas than in the States."

"They vary from offer to offer," Esterman told "He gets 20k for performances plus the expenses, on many cases, but that rate is not set in stone."

Esterman has a reputation of hooking up "D-list" stars with highly paid gigs at pool parties, political fundraisers and other private affairs. Recently, he booked Coolio for his own birthday party with Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille and a few "Deal or No Deal" models.

"If I listened to what people said about me, man, I'd be crying all the time," Coolio said. "There's a new rapper every day, and a lot of people have judged me who have never heard me."

"He's all over the place and doing very well," Esterman said. "We book him all the time overseas and the fans love him."

Hip-Hop: From Bronx to Faroe

Foreign audiences beyond the Faroe Islands -- which Coolio agrees was "pretty damn desolate, no sun and lots of sheep" -- can't get enough rap. Hip-hop may have been invented in the Bronx 30 years ago, but the culture has spread worldwide.

"God bless him," said Billboard's senior R&B and hip-hop correspondent Gail Mitchell, who said she would not "go so far to call [Coolio] D-list."

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