Through The Wire

Album: The College Dropout (2003)
Charted: 9 15
  • Kanye West was in a terrible car accident on October 23, 2002, that nearly killed him. After a long night in the studio, West was driving home in Los Angeles at 3 a.m. when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into an oncoming vehicle. His jaw was broken in three places and in emergency surgery they had to put a metal plate in his chin. In his hospital bed, with his mouth wired shut, he heard Chaka Khan's song "Through The Fire" playing in the background on a CD player. He was just lying back, then he heard her voice melodically singing the line, "Right down to the wire, even through the fire." That's when he got the idea of recording the song to describe what he was going through.

    Two weeks after his accident, Kanye recorded the song, even though his jaw was still wired shut. He had to release all of his mixed emotions then and there, taking pain medications between takes to complete the song. He had a new appreciation for life - he was living so carelessly and the accident brought everything into perspective. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nikki - Chicago, IL
  • "Through The Wire" was West's first single. He was an esteemed hip-hop producer with credits for Beanie Sigel, Mos Def, Scarface, and most-notably, Jay-Z, who signed West as an artist to his Roc-A-Fella label two weeks before the accident. Released in September 2003, was a big hit, leading the way for his debut album, The College Dropout, in 2004. West quickly entered the conversation as one of the top rappers in the game, earning a reputation for his refined fashion sense, musical creativity, and arrogance.

    At first, many of us didn't know how to pronounce his name, thinking maybe it was a Brett Favre situation where his first name was really pronounced "Kane."
  • This is based on a sped-up sample of Chaka Khan's "Through The Fire," making the mighty soul diva sound like a chipmunk. How did she feel about it? When the Metro newspaper July 12, 2004, asked her what she thought of West sampling her, she replied: "Kanye is an absolute sweetheart, truly adorable. I love him and I love that track. The way he's used my sample is so clever - it's like Chaka on helium."

    Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2015, Chaka Khan was less polite about the sample. "I didn't like at all what he did with my song because he made me sound like a chipmunk," she said. "I didn't know that he was going to take my vocal and speed it up. I didn't give him permission to do that and yet the song kick-started his entire career."
  • In the lyrics, West mentions that he looked like Emmett Till after the accident. Till was a 14-year-old black boy from Mississippi who was mutilated by white men and dumped in a river because he whistled at a white woman. The case made headlines when the men who did it were acquitted.
  • The College Dropout won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2005, beating albums by the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, LL Cool J and Nelly. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • In 2004, Chaka Khan performed this with West at the MTV Video Music Awards. Chaka was horribly off-key - she had a problem with her throat, but sang anyway because she wanted to honor her commitment.

Comments: 11

  • Elizabeth from Myrtle Beach, ScI was in a pretty bad accident myself recently. I was hit by what could only be described as a drunk driver, they haven't found him yet. I had stitches above my eye and my arm was broken in 2 spots. The only thing I could think about was the damage and how I was going to pay for it. I heard on the radio that there is a place I could get great discount Volvo parts that I need. I was so happy with the deals I got.
  • @deeprez_ from Arizona, AzMase once burned a Wu Tang flag, and Ghost punched him.
    "If you could feel how my face felt, you would know how Mase felt"-Kanye west
  • Rebeca from Spartanburg, ScI haven't listened to this yet, i like stronger though :D
  • Nikki from Chicago, IlThanks Jesse, "Chi-town stand up!" And to the comment about Kanye West reppin' Chicago. I think he does way better than R. Kelly reppin' Chicago because he reached back,he's helping Chicago artist who haven't had much mainstreet success as well as discovering new Chicago artist. He's helping Shawnna, Twista, Do or Die, Bumpy Johnson, Rhymefest, Lupe Fiasco and Malik Yusef and he's introducing the world to GLC, Really Doe. Hustle and G.O.O.D. Music (2 Kanye labels and management companies) are going to put Chicago on the map in the near feature that people from Chicago won't have to leave and go to NY or LA, etc. to pursue their musical careers.
  • Evan from Pensacola, FlKanye West is a great solo artist. If you do not think so you obviously havent listened to many of his songs and if you think this is his best song, once again, you havent listened to much of his music. The song is good, but by far not one of his best. I am a big fan of music and kanye is in my top 5. You need to listen to Kanye's first album The College Dropout. Even though he has a lot of featured artist, he is still a great solo artist. He is a lyricist. Listen to Spaceship, Never let you down, Family Business, and Last Call. All on his first album.
  • Mariana from Charleston, ScEmmett Till was from Chicago, I'm pretty sure. The case made headlines also because his mother had an open casket for Emmett, despite--or because of--his mutilated face. The magazine Jet photographed it and put it on their cover, which more or less forced a lot of America to face racism in the country. And yeah, this song is amazing.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScIf i remember correctly, emmett Till wasn't from Mississippi. He had just gone down there to visit his grandparents. As a result, he didn't know as much about the segregation that was going on in the South at the time. After all, the South at the time was one of the worst places for black people to live. segregation was rampant and if any of them said anything wrong or did anything wrong they could be brutally mutilated. feel free to correct me if any of this is wrong. Does anyone know where Emmett till was from? He didn't live in the south. I want to say he was from Michigan, but I'm really not sure.
  • Kristen from Aurora, IlHey what about his other songs? His song School Spirit mentions my school in Aurora.
  • Jesse from Chicago, Ilsecond of all, Not since R. Kelly(save the jokes) has someone represented chicago in the R&B/hip hop world so proudly in their music
  • Jesse from Chicago, IlFirst of all, Nikki, you summed up this song perfectly in songfacts. Everything you said, I came to this website to say. you saved me the trouble. thanx.
    Jesse=CHI TOWN
  • Allison from New York, NyThis song is Kanye's best by far. You can hear in his voice how much he loves music. But although Kanye is a great producer (Jay-Z, Twista, keysha cole) hes not a great solo artist. Its a shame all his songs arent this good
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