Producer: Kanye West
Album: The College Dropout
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Like the way 50 Cent used his near-death experience to fuel his career, Kanye made his nearly fatal 2002 car crash the subject of his debut single. He sampled Chaka Khan's 1985 single "Through the Fire" in his then trademark sped-up soul sample style and it became the first of his many solo hits. The song did more than just retell the story and aftermath of the crash; it helped Ye establish his refreshing humorous but honest persona. He famously recorded the song while his jaw was still wired shut but that only helped mask the choppy but admirably lackluster flow he had back in those days. It's a disservice to just listen to this song on its own; everyone (especially aspiring artists) ought to consider why dude fell asleep at the wheel and ended up having such a harrowing story to tell: He was working so damn hard. - Insanul Ahmed