Kanye West – Through The Wire (Roc-A-Fella, 2003)
This review originally appeared as part of The Stylus Decade, January 2010.
Although helium-voiced “chipmunk soul” soon became one of the decade’s more irritating fads—Akon’s “Mr. Lonely” standing out as a particularly pointless example of the genre—this early deployment still feels artistically justified. As Kanye recovers from reconstructive surgery—jaw wired shut, meds coursing through his veins—a hallucinatory vision of mid-80s Chaka dances around the edges of his consciousness, her pitched-up vocals heightening the sense of other-worldly remove. Meanwhile, at a more earthbound level, the patient raves and drools, cracks jokes, gives thanks, spits in the eye of misfortune, and—as the world was soon to see—turns “tragedy to triumph.”