Producer: Kanye West
Album: The College Dropout
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
After it was announced that the guy who did all of those great beats on The Blueprinthad just inked a solo record deal with Roc-A-Fella, most assumed the only place they'd actually see the album was in "coming soon" advertisements on liner-note inserts in the latest Jay-Z release.
You know, right there beside Oschino & Sparks and Rell. Taking his destiny into his own hands, Kanye went into his own pockets to finance the video for "Through the Wire" (directed by then-unknown duo Coodie & Chike), which he serviced to television and radio himself.
The unexpected hit, recorded just two weeks after West almost lost his life in a gruesome car accident, featured him literally rapping through the wire, as his jaw was wired shut. The world had no idea what they were in for.—Andrew Barber