Netflix recently released its highly anticipated Kanye West docuseries titled “Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy '' from filmmaking duo Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah. Over the course of three episodes, the series explores West’s journey from producer to rapper, the creation of his debut album, and his relationship with Coodie — who grew apart from Kanye in the mid-2000s until their reunion in 2017.
Back in May 2021, numerous outlets revealed Netflix would release a docuseries in 2022 focusing on the life of West. Fans were excited to finally get a look behind the scenes of West’s journey from producer to international icon. Many viewers assumed the docuseries would be a historical analysis of West or an in-depth exploration of each of his albums — similarly to the docuseries “The Last Dance,” which told the story behind each of Michael Jordan’s six NBA Championships. Many also anticipated numerous exclusive interviews with the important figures in Kanye’s life.
“Jeen-Yuhs” isn’t framed as fans originally expected — instead, it utilizes a first-person, intimate style of filmmaking. While this is different from what audiences were hoping for, it ultimately works in favor of the film.
When Coodie decided to film West in 2001, the original idea was to capture Kanye until his debut album was released. Ozah met Kanye and Coodie a few years later and joined the project. As filming continued and the scope of the series’ timeline grew, Simmons and Ozah became close friends with Kanye, a closeness that they take advantage of within the docuseries.
“Jeen-Yuhs” is more akin to a personal diary than a history book. With its personalized narrative, the docuseries stands out as a unique masterpiece of filmmaking. Audiences feel like they are right alongside West through his remarkable journey, seeing him change as he gains fame, has children and becomes a husband.
Episode one shines in its ability to show fans West’s endurance while building his rap career. West began his career in the music industry as a producer. Many in the industry thought he was an amazing producer, but believed it was unlikely he could also become a respected rapper because no one had successfully made such a transition previously.
Witnessing Kanye believe he is incapable of failing while the odds are against him is inspirational. While driving home from a studio session in 2002, West tells his Chicago friends the extent of his dreams.
“I might be living y’all’s American dream,” West said. “But I’m nowhere near where my dream is, dawg. Man, I got big dreams.”
The second episode focuses on the creation of numerous tracks from West’s debut album “The College Dropout.” One of the best scenes in this episode is the recording session for the choir vocals of “Through the Wire.” Coodie gives fans the opportunity to see the creation of an important element for one of West’s best songs. Witnessing West direct the choir on how to stress the phrase “through the wire” to create a more engaging song is truly fascinating. The audience is able to understand Kanye’s keen ability to make slight changes in the music, making the song more dynamic.
The first 20 minutes of the third episode are dedicated to West’s mother, Donda West. Not much footage is publicly available of Donda West. Thankfully, Coodie and Chike provide fans with the opportunity to see Donda and Kanye upclose. Donda had an important role as part of Kanye’s business team, which meant they spent quite a bit of time together.
In “Jeen-Yuhs,” fans get to see Donda and Kanye visit his childhood home, attend a charity event together and sing along to Kanye’s masterful track “Hey Mama.” Coodie and Chike discuss the severe psychological trauma West went through after the death of his mother in 2007 and how that has shaped his career since.
Coodie also discusses fame absorbing Kanye after “The College Dropout'' — making him leave behind friends, including Coodie, that were not famous. In 2016, while dealing with an opiod addiction and trauma after his wife Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint, Kanye had a public psychological breakdown. Afterwards, West opened his heart to old friends from Chicago — encouraging Coodie’s return to filming Kanye from 2017 to 2021.
Within the three episodes of this docuseries, audiences get an in-depth look into the life of Kanye West as never seen before. “Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” thoroughly adds to the complicated story of West, giving audiences the ability to understand the complicated person that he is, the figures in his life that shaped him and how fame changed him, while also showcasing West’s musical genius.