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Through the Wire ()

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Pressed up as a promo 12" well before the release of The College Dropout, and also available on the underground mixtape Get Well Soon, "Through the Wire" is an extremely bold move for an accomplished, oft-imitated producer. Hysterical and heartbreaking at once, the song expresses what was running through Kanye West's head as he recuperated from a life-threatening car accident. In fact, it was recorded during his convalescence, while his jaw was wired shut. Even with the inevitable slur, his words ring loud and clear: "I drink a Boost for breakfast/A Ensure for diz-zurt/Somebody order pancakes/I just sip the siz-zurp"; "In the same hospital where Biggie Smalls died/The doctor said I had blood clots, but I ain't Jamaican, man/Story on MTV and I ain't tryin' to make a band." In a year that saw a few of his biggest collaborations to date -- such as Ludacris' "Stand Up" and Talib Kweli's "Get By" -- "Through the Wire" likewise boasts amped-up, handclap-happy production, assisted significantly by the chorus from Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire," which gets run through West's signature hyper-speed processing. Whether or not it was intended, the song perfectly aided West's sculpting of dual status as underdog and champion, keeping one foot in the underground while another remained in the mainstream. B-side "Two Words," featuring Mos Def and Roc-A-Fella labelmate Freeway, is almost as devastating and will surely make for another College Dropout highlight (two words: violin solo). ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi Hide synopsis

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  • 1. CD, Universal/Polydor, 06/28/2005

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