25. Kanye West "Through The Wire" (Verse 2)
Album: The College Dropout
This is where #YeezySeason truly began. It wasn't so much that Kanye West was outlandishly brash or musically advanced on "Through the Wire," it was that his confidence exuded the man's sheer determination to be better than the competition. Lest we forget, he rapped with his damn jaw wired shut following a car accident that almost took his life.
The second verse was the moment when Kanye went from being a prominent producer to becoming a legitimate rapper with a story to tell. He seamlessly pieced together similes ("They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael"), honesty ("Thank God I ain't too cool for the safe belt!"), and perseverance ("But I'm a champion, so I turned tragedy to triumph"). The listener couldn't help but root for him by song's end. "Through The Wire" was an incredibly fresh debut for an upcoming MC, and still is, 10 years after its fateful release. —Edwin Ortiz