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"Two Words"
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/a3/Kanyewest_collegedropout.jpg/290px-Kanyewest_collegedropout.jpg
song by Kanye West featuring Mos Def,
Freeway and The Boys Choir of Harlem
from the album The College Dropout
Released November 10, 2003
Recorded 2003 at Edie Road Recording Studio
(Argyle, New York)
Quad Recordings
(New York, New York)
Genre Hip hop
Label Roc-A-Fella
Def Jam
Songwriter(s) Kanye West
Dante Smith
Leslie Pridgen
Lou Wilson
Ric Wilson
Carlos Wilson
Producer Kanye West
Singles chronology
Two Words
(November 10, 2003)

"Two Words" is a song by American hip-hop artist Kanye West, that features Mos Def, Freeway and The Boys Choir of Harlem, from West's debut studio album The College Dropout (2004). A cinematic version of the song was released as part of The College Dropout Video Anthology. It has been performed by Freeway regularly at his live shows over the years. An orchestral sound is used in the song. The music video was released in March 2005.

Background

The original version of the track list for The College Dropout showed that the song was initially scheduled to be titled "2 Words" and have the position of number 5, rather than number 18 as it stands on the official release.

Composition and lyrics

Within "Two Words", there is an orchestral sound that includes classical strings and Miri Ben-Ari revealed that she was the one who introduced West to this sound. The track contains a sample of 1970 recording "Peace and Love (Amani Na Mapenzi) Movement III (Time)", written by Lou Wilson, Ric Wilson and Carlos Wilson, and performed by Mandrill. On top of this, it samples drums from The 5th Dimension's 1971 track "The Rainmaker".

West references a group he was once in known as the Go Getters with the line: "Go Getters rhyme like, should've been signed twice" and over the years, West has actually recycled multiple rhymes that he first spit when part of the group.

Recording

Miri Ben-Ari revealed that "Two Words" was the first recording she ever did with West. It was revealed by West that he drove to the Harlem Boys Choir’s summer camp to record them in a barn for the track. West actually had to pay them $10,000 to record a feature for him. Freeway liked the beat when he heard it, and the rapper laid his verse down for the song before West and Mos recorded their parts.

In popular culture

An alternative version titled "Two Words (Frisky Remix)" was shared to BBC Music, which is a mashup of the original and Tinie Tempah's Labrinth-featuring single "Frisky", but only Kanye West, Labrinth and Mos Def are included as artists in the remix. On February 27, 2014, Ace Hood released a freestyle titled "Lyrical Exercise" over the instrumental of "Two Words".

Live performances

West and Mos performed "Two Words" live with The Roots as a backing band on September 18, 2004 as part of Dave Chappelle's Block Party concert. Freeway has performed the song at his live shows. On one occasion, Freeway joined West for a performance of it at a Super Bowl party with Pepsi, which was at the time of Super Bowl XL in February 2006.

Music video

Despite the song not being one of the album's singles, a music video was officially released for it as part of West's The College Dropout Video Anthology on March 22, 2005. He released an edited version of the video independently on November 4.

All of the people who starred in the music video shot their parts in different places. This didn't mark the only time a video was released for a non-single from West's debut album, since he also shot one for "Spaceship", which was posted online by featured artist GLC on June 1, 2009 - however, it was originally scheduled to be released as a single, unlike "Two Words".

Personnel

Information taken from The College Dropout liner notes

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Dante Smith, Leslie Pridgen, Lou Wilson, Ric Wilson, Carlos Wilson
  • Record producer: Kanye West
  • Recorders: Marc Fuller, Keith Slattery, Carlisle Young
  • Mix engineer: Mike Dean
  • Additional vocals: The Boys Choir of Harlem
  • Keyboards: Keith Slattery
  • Violin: Miri Ben-Ari

Cinematic version

March 22, 2005, The College Dropout Video Anthology was released, which features a bonus audio CD with a cinematic version of "Two Words" as a track on it.


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