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Through the Wire
Through the Wire Polaroid Snapshot
Kanye West
Released September 2, 2003
Recorded November 2002
The Record Plant
(Los Angeles, California)
Length 3:41 (Album version)
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Produced by Kanye West

Through the Wire is a song by Kanye West that was released as the lead single off of his debut album The College Dropout (2004). Released on September 2, 2003, it peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100. The song, which samples Chaka Khan's 1985 single "Through the Fire", received positive reviews from music critics.

The song was inspired was inspired by a 2002 car accident that West was involved in, he wrote and recorded the song while his jaw was wired shut. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, the track was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance, which was won by Jay-Z's "99 Problems". The music video was financed by West, who conceived ideas from an Adidas advertisement. It won Video of the Year at the 2004 Source Hip Hop Awards.

Background and compositionEdit

On October 23, 2002, West was in a California recording studio producing music for Beanie Sigel, Peedi Crakk, and The Black Eyed Peas. After leaving the studio at around 3 a.m. in his rented Lexus, he had a near-fatal accident when he was cut off by a car, ran head-on into traffic, and collided with another car near the W Hotel. He was taken to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, mentioned in the song as "the same hospital where Biggie Smalls died," and had his jaw wired to his face in reconstructive surgery. Two weeks after being admitted to hospital, he recorded the song at the Record Plant Studios with his jaw still wired shut. The song's title refers to the wires used to hold his broken jaw together.

The chorus and instrumentals samples a "pitched up" version of Chaka Khan's 1985 single "Through the Fire".

Critical receptionEdit

The song received generally positive reviews. The New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh described him as "a wounded hero beating the odds" and it "gave him a chance to prove that he was the exception to the rule that producers can't rap." Stylus Magazine called it a "a poignant, pop-culture-packed account of Kanye’s near-fatal run-in with Chaka Khan". By rapping with his jaw sawed up, The Source noted that West used "the element of surprise to his advantage".

Chart performanceEdit

"Through the Wire" debuted at number ninety-four on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number fifteen for five weeks. It remained on the chart for twenty-one weeks. It performed better on the urban contemporary charts, reaching number eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and number four on the Hot Rap Tracks. In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number nine on the UK Singles Chart where it peaked for two weeks and exited the chart after nine weeks. The track charted lower in other European countries, where it reached the top thirty in Ireland, Sweden, and the Netherlands, the top fifty in Belgium and Switzerland, and number sixty-one in Germany. Its maximum peak time in those countries lasted one week. The single entered the New Zealand Singles Chart at number twenty-four and peaked at number sixteen.

Music videoEdit

The music video was directed by Coodie and Chike and it premiered in November 2003. Kanye West, who financed the video, conceived ideas for the clip after seeing an Adidas advertisement in BlackBook magazine. He stated, "I don't like gettin' ideas from direct shit ... I like to pull ideas from all the way over here. Sometimes my vision can't be explained in words, 'cause I couldn't have even told you in words how I envisioned that video ending up."

Track listingEdit

CD single
  1. "Through the Wire"
  2. "Through the Wire" (instrumental)
  3. "Two Words" (main)
  4. "Two Words" (clean)
  5. "Two Words" (instrumental)
UK CD single
  1. "Through the Wire" (radio edit)
  2. "Two Words" (radio edit)
  3. "Through the Wire" (instrumental)
  4. "Through the Wire" (multimedia track)

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