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New Netflix Documentary Tells the Story of Kanye West (And Explains a Lot)

New Netflix Documentary Tells the Story of Kanye West (And Explains a Lot)

Follow his journey spanning more than 20 years, from the time he was a rapper nobody appreciated.

Called Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, it is a three-episode documentary series whose first act premieres on Netflix this Wednesday, February 16. The second chapter will premiere a week later on February 23, and the third the following week on March 2.

The production offers a glimpse into the story of Kanye West – a story that is not told with detachment and impartiality. It was shot directly with the artist himself behind the scenes of his career for more than 20 years.

It all started between the end of the 90s and the beginning of the new millennium. Clarence “Coodie” Simmons did a television show about Chicago’s hip-hop culture. Kanye West was a local talent, an increasingly recognized producer looking to take the plunge as a rapper. Coodie suggested accompanying him on a shoot, which Kanye accepted.

Much of the footage for Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy was actually shot around this time – the other writer on the project is Chike Ozah. The documentary shows how Kanye West had ambitions to become a big name in American hip-hop at a time when the movement was already more than established, with huge names (and millionaires, too) for several years.

Kanye West took the first big step in his journey when he managed to produce songs for Jay-Z on The Blueprint album and for other rappers on the Roc-A-Fella label. He had moved from Chicago to New York, the birthplace of hip-hop, to try his luck.

In the documentary, we see Kanye literally wandering the halls of Jay-Z’s company without anyone paying much attention to him. There are even secretaries who are upset that he interprets some of his texts for them. It was during this time that West composed the songs that would go on to be part of The College Dropout, his debut album as a rapper, released in 2004.

Roc-A-Fella eventually signed Kanye to a deal, mostly to keep his talent as a producer and not so much to consider that he was going to be a great rapper. West, of course, would ultimately prove everyone wrong. “The College Dropout” sold four million copies, had great singles and received an impressive ten Grammy nominations. It was the record that catapulted West to stardom, but it was only to be the beginning of his serious career.

As the documentary shows at the end, all of the difficulties of a young man from Chicago trying to make it in New York — and after all the “nos” he received — may have helped shape Kanye West’s difficult personality form, which has intensified in recent years and sometimes even drowned out his own music.

The documentary also includes several moments with the artist’s mother, Donda, the most important person in his life – and who gave the title to his latest album, which was released in 2021. Son. In Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, he seems to explain the difference between confidence and arrogance. Donda died in 2007, and Kanye may have missed a lot of important mothering advice over the past few years.

Another notable event covered in the documentary series is the 2002 car accident in which Kanye West almost lost his life. Recent years — including his marriage to Kim Kardashian and the birth of their children — are not highlighted in the project.

His controversial personality, his failed run for the US presidency and his bipolar disorder are also not adequately addressed. In all, it’s about four and a half hours of documentary that originally premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

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