Jasraj Hothi

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jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy on Netflix

I set a reminder for jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy the moment I spotted it in the ‘coming soon’ section on Netflix around a month ago.

I’ve been waiting for it to drop and I caught a feature on the new 3-part documentary series about Kanye West in yesterday’s Evening Standard, one of London’s free newspapers available at train stations all across the city.

If I’d been looking forward to it already, that piece I read only left me more eager to get home and hit the play button.

I had not realised the years - the hours - of work and footage that led to this documentary being made. The documentary has been filmed and put together by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, the former of whom was a comedian and host of Channel Zero, and finding himself in the unique position of showcasing the stories and the songs emerging from Chicago’s burgeoning rap scene in the ‘90s. The two filmmakers have also produced videos for Kanye’s breakthrough music including Through The Wire and Jesus Walks.

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*“We had filmed a lot of artists, but there was just something different about Kanye”* 

- Clarence “Coodie” Simmons

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This documentary is a true example of telling the story behind the story of one of the biggest names in music, Kanye West.

There is so much about Kanye’s story that fascinates me, and so much more that jeen-yuhs is opening my eyes to.

His personality and temperament.

His self-belief.

His charisma.

His ego.

His mother.

His bipolar disorder.

His musicality.

His genius.

His energy.

His story.

The archive footage of a young, early-twenties Kanye being interviewed by “Coodie”, him rocking up to Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella record label and rapping to anyone who would listen, his early days of making beats for fellow rappers… but his passion above all else for wanting to rap, and to be seen and respected as a rapper amongst the scene he was serving his beats to.

There was another particularly memorable scene with his mother, Donda, when they visit their old house together, teasing one another and sharing fond memories. 

In another moment they have a conversation that gives us so much insight, one where she is imparting her son some wisdom and Kanye is boyishly sat there listening.

She says *“But you know I was thinking about something I was gonna say to you, Kanye, that I thought was important. How you were down-to-earth and everything, but you have a lot of confidence that come off a little arrogant, even though you’re humble and everything, but it be important to remember that: the giant looks in the mirror and sees nothing“*. 

There’s a couple of moments of pause, the two of them just looking at one another, before they start gently chuckling. Kanye, looking down at the ground, gingerly asks: “So you think I come off too arrogant?”

There are so many isolated scenes like this, which would make this documentary worth watching. You could pause it anywhere and get so much insight.

Just a few minutes into jeen-yuhs, I was truly captivated by Kanye’s story and the hundreds of hours of work that I realised had gone into the production of this documentary.

Netflix seems to be doing something right with these biographical portrayals which, with raw archive footage, at times feel more like autobiographies than documentaries.

A couple of other phenomenal productions that come to my mind, both on Netflix and 10/10 for me, are Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell and *Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up*.

I almost wrote something after watching Kevin Hart’s documentary recently, I just had to for this Kanye one.

Just a third of the way into this particular three-act documentary, jeen-yuhs has the potential to be an 11/10 for me. In fact, if it was available in UK cinemas, I’d probably ditch the comfort of my own home to watch this one on the big screen. It also feels nice that this is being released week-by-week, allowing one to experience it “live” with some space in between each episode, so to speak, just like television used to be.

I feel like this is the closest thing to a Kanye autobiography there is, and likely the closest thing there’ll ever be.

Storytelling at its finest. No sensationalism required. Just raw, utter jeen-yuhs.

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📺 jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy

Act I: Vision - 16th February, 2022

Act II: Purpose - 23rd February, 2022

Act III: Awakening - 2nd March, 2022