"Good dude, bad night, right place, wrong time/In the blink of a eye, his whole life changed." —Kanye West
No ID: “I remember when he first had the accident] and I talked to him, he was like, ‘I’ve figured it all out.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re safe, God bless.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I figured out my direction.’ For whatever reason, it clicked in his head. Kanye always had a way of thinking and I learned not to question it.”
Consequence: “He called me maybe like three days [after the accident] rapping ‘Through The Wire’ verses. I’m thinking to myself, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? Why the fuck are you rapping right now?’
Kanye showed me the ‘Through the Wire’ video on his laptop. He said, ‘Def Jam is fronting on me because I’m not rapping in the video and they said I have to rap. I don’t want to rap.’
Dame Dash: “I remember when he smacked his face into a tree, I remember him asking me for a drum machine. So I paid for a drum machine and he started making all this music. I remember he shot the video and I started to notice that he was walking around with people, and that was exactly what I used to do. So I was like, okay, I see you.”
Evidence: “Kanye showed me the ‘Through the Wire’ video on his laptop. He said, ‘Def Jam is fronting on me because I’m not rapping in the video and they said I have to rap. I don’t want to rap.’ And he’s on the phone with Lyor Cohen, saying ‘I’m going to be big.’ I was just like, ‘Okay, this guy is determined.’
Deray Davis: “That ‘without a arm I spit,’ people have used that for hooks, for records, for mixtapes, CD, covers, all that. I had no idea that would be in the video. It came together organically. It’s amazing how you can plant a seed and just have it grow out of the water. People still walk up to me and say, ‘Without an arm I spit!’”
The video for "Through The Wire" was directed by Coodie and Chike and paid for by Kanye himself.
Coodie: “After he got signed, MTV wanted to do a ‘You Heard It First’ on Kanye on MTV, so this girl Yasmine Richard, she knew I had all this footage, so she called me. While I was at MTV she introduced me to people at MTV and one of those people was Chike, he was doing motion graphics for MTV.
‘Through the Wire’ told a story. When people understand your story they buy into you, I think Steve Jobs said that.
“After the accident, we came up with the idea to do the ‘Through the Wire’ video. I told Kanye, ‘Let’s put our video on a Polaroid. We could do the documentary footage and all that.’ We cut it up and I called Chike because we didn’t know how we could visually make it happen. Chike jumped on board with us and it was history in the making. That was the thing that took Kanye to the next level because people wasn’t believing in him until they seen that video.”
Chike: “The reason why we were even doing music videos was because we saw the void in creativity of the hip-hop videos that were out. Our goal was to change the norm.”
Coodie: “‘Through the Wire’ told a story. When people understand your story they buy into you, I think Steve Jobs said that.”
"Through The Wire" samples Chaka Khan's "Through The Fire" (1984)
Coodie: “We were sneaking into MTV every night. Kanye would be walking into MTV, they don’t know who he was, and say he was coming to see Chike.”
Chike: “History was made at MTV, right beneath their nose, and they didn’t even realize it. I was still working there when that video was No. 1 on MTV. I told my boss at the time like, ‘He’s not gonna be able to walk in here like this, y’all don’t realize really what y’all have sitting in here right now.’ He would come up and walk in regular, nobody would say nothing to him, he’d be sitting next to me on the computer the whole day.
I remember watching Rap City when ‘Through The Wire’ was No. 1 on MTV. Big Tigger was like, ‘Who came up with the concept?’ Kanye said, ‘Me.’ He didn’t say anything about me or Chike at all. I was like, ‘OK, something’s going south.’ —Coodie
“I went to art school and I do motion graphics, so I was showing him all different types of sites that had cutting edge typography and other visual stuff that I thought he’d be interested in, that’s how we bonded. I showed him [the design and filmmaking collective] MK12, next thing he doing a video with MK12. I showed him Show Studio—a fashion site—which is crazy because now he rolls with Nick Knight who was the director over there. I showed him this other site called QBN.com, this site K1OK, just all inspirational stuff.
Coodie: "The night of when he did the ‘Through The Wire’ premiere party at 40-40 Club, that was the night that was like, ‘Oh shit.’ That’s when Def Jam started recognizing him. Everybody was blown away by the video and it just kept building from there. Then after that show at SOBs on October 1st, he was bonafide, he was popping. It was full-on Kanye season.
"I remember watching Rap City when ‘Through The Wire’ was No. 1 on MTV. Big Tigger was like, ‘That video is great, who came up with the concept?’ I was like thank you Big Tigger, now I know I’m gonna get my shoutout. But Kanye said, ‘Me.’ He didn’t say anything about me or Chike at all. I was like, ‘Okay, something’s going south.’ I knew then."
Deray Davis: “I remember walking up to a club with Kanye while ‘Through the Wire’ was playing inside the club. We’re standing behind the rope. We’re like, ‘Yo, for real we standing outside?’ I’m like, ‘This motherfucker’s song is on right now.’ They’re like, ‘That’s Kanye? Oh shit!’ This is before he was getting carried in the club. [Laughs.]”