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#ThrowbackThursday: “Through the Wire” by Kanye West

Kanye West released “Through the Wire” as his debut single on February 10, 2004.

by Sean Smith

Update: Kanye West’s album title T.L.O.P has now been revealed to stand for “The Life Of Pablo.”  Many are suspecting it to be a reference to Pablo Escobar because West makes Reference to him on the album.

Kanye West made headlines for a number of things he has said on social media in recent days, leading up to his big Yeezus Season 3 fashion show and album release event today (Feb. 11). The “All of the Lights” emcee took to Twitter to express his support for Bill Cosby, tweeting out “BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!” As you might imagine the tweet has stirred up some anger on the social media platform and beyond. This coming  just days after going back and forth with fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa and his one time girlfriend Amber Rose 140 characters at a time, after mistaking a Wiz Khalifa tweet about weed (shocking!) for a disparaging remark against his wife Kim Kardashian. But back to the big event.

The all-things Kanye extravaganza is being held at Madison Square Garden in New York City at 4pm. Those of us who are not lucky enough to be in attendance can catch it all via a live stream of the event on Tidal. The event is expected to include the unveiling of Kanye’s latest fashion offerings as well as the debuting of his newest album.

The big news coming out of the event for us music fans is obviously the release of his latest album. The project has been a work in progress, literally, as Kanye has been tweeting about putting the finishing touches on the album up until just earlier this week. The new album has also gone through a number of name changes to date. It was first going to be called So Help Me God. Then he changed it to SWISH, before deciding to change it a second time to Waves. This week he changed the album title for a third time, saying on Twitter that the new album title was T.L.O.P.. He offered prizes to anyone who could guess what the acronym stood for, apparently with no one guessing correctly. As of the time I am writing this (Wednesday evening) we are still in the dark about the album’s official full title.

While we excitedly anticipate the release of Kanye West’s seventh solo album, we also have a “Kanye-versary” to celebrate. On February 10, 2004, 12 years ago this week, the Chicago rapper released his debut solo album The College Dropout. Making this the perfect time to remember his emotional debut single “Through the Wire”.

As most of you know, before Kanye West was one of the best rappers in the game he was one of the best and brightest producers in the industry. He first gained widespread notoriety as a producer when he started working with Roc-a-fella Records artists like Jay Z, Beanie Sigel, and Freeway. In October 2002, after leaving a late night producing session at a Los Angeles studio, Kanye was involved in a serious car accident. The incident  left Kanye West with a completely shattered jaw which required reconstructive surgery and a metal plate inserted into his chin. As a part of the recovery process he had to have his jaw wired shut to allow for proper healing. It was this experience which provided the producer and aspiring rapper the inspiration to write “Through the Wire”.

The story goes that while he was recovering in a hospital bed he was listening to Chaka Khan’s 1985 song “Through the Fire” and when he heard the line “right down to the wire, even through the fire” he was struck with the idea to make a song about what he was going through, and to sample Chaka Khan’s voice in doing so. The result being “Through the Wire”. The lyrics talk about his accident and his recovery process, and he miraculously recorded his audio for the track just two weeks after the accident with his mouth still wired shut. It was so painful for him to rap that he had to stop and take pain medication between takes. The final product was an emotional and deeply personal debut single that would propel Kanye West from being a producer who was also an aspiring rapper to a legitimate emcee who was also happened to be a world class producer.

So with Kanye West releasing his new record and this week being the 12th anniversary of his debut album release, we take time to remember his debut single “Through the Wire”. Enjoy.


Kanye West

“Through The Fire”

From The College Dropout

Roca-fella/Def Jam Recordings

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