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5 Things We Learned From Kanye West’s Netflix Trilogy, ‘jeen-yuhs’

To many, he’s an extroverted ego-maniac. To others, a musical genius responsible for many of the greatest tracks ever made. It would appear that few characters in modern pop culture straddle the line of divisive polarisation like ‘Mr. Bipolar’ himself, Kanye West. With more than a decade’s worth of grainy camcorder footage, Coodie – an aspiring director, and Kanye‘s biggest cheerleader – amassed almost 5 hours worth of footage, spread across three episodes in this special Netflix docu-series.

Here are 5 things we learned from ‘jeen-yus: A Kanye West trilogy’…


JAY-Z WASN’T CONVINCED

During the trilogy’s earliest scenes, we see a young Kanye hustling his way through New York, after leaving his native Chicago to pursue dreams as a rap artist, building on his existing career as a producer. Despite already using one of Kanye‘s beats on his single ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’, Jay-Z wasn’t convinced by Kanye‘s abilities as a rapper, and despite Yeezy‘s desperate attempts to sign to Jay‘s Roc-A-Fella Records label, he often felt as though the imprint would dangle false promises in front of him. Kanye hustled, even storming the building, forcing Jay‘s staff to listen to his demo, and eventually found the pot of gold at the end his rainbow. Though Jay might’ve taken some convincing, others didn’t, with the footage showing a young Pharrell, John Legend, Ludacris, P Diddy, and Jamie Foxx – via a brief Beyonce cameo – all gushing over the brilliance of this young, up-and-coming producer/rapper.


DONDA WAS HIS EVERYTHING

The brightest star in the overall West galaxy, was undoubtedly Donda, Kanye‘s mother, who sparkles like a supernova during every second of screen time thanks to her personable nature, and calming charisma. The documentary focuses intensively on the inseparably close friendship Kanye enjoyed with the single-mother who raised him alone. As the don of the family, we see her encouraging him with affirmative sentences on how he’s the “Best Son”, to which he bashfully confesses, “And you da best Mom”. Not only did he even dedicate a track to her via Hey Mama, she – most importantly – kept him humble. We see one scene in particular, where Donda passes on a nugget of wisdom to Kanye, assuring him that. “When a giant looks in the mirror, he sees nothing. Remember to stay on the ground, and you can be in the air all at the same time… Everybody else sees the giant.”


… AND HE SPIRALLED AFTER HER DEATH

When we look at Kanye – pre-Donda‘s death (at the age of 58, in late 2007) – we see a comedic character with little ego. It’s almost unthinkable to now see him hosting shows such as ‘The Friday Night project alongside goofy English comedian Alan Carr. Without his Mother around to keep him grounded, Kanye‘s mental state unravelled into a chaotic encapsulation of narcissism, beginning with the infamous Taylor Swift incident in 2009, and later unfolding into a bipolar-induced smorgasbord of mental breakdowns, controversy around his ‘MAGA’ affiliation with Donald Trump, comments over slavery, and the sudden cancelling of live shows following Kim Kardashian‘s Paris robbery in 2016. The one positive to arise from such drama, became clear when Yeezus started to produce his best music when internally pained. Still smarting from the controversial nature of Donda‘s death, and his high-profile split from American model Amber Rose, Ye produced his magnum opus in the form of the iconic ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘ album, and in particular… ‘Runaway’.

HE IS A CREATIVE ‘JEEN-YUS’

“Exceptional intellectual or creative power.” By the dictionary definition of ‘Genius’ alone, we can conclude that Kanye fulfils the requirements for such a title. At one point in the Netflix series, his self-proclaimed label is doubted by a friend who – validly – points out that to earn such a tag, it must be bestowed upon you by the public. Through his hugely successful Adidas collaboration, his venture into a unique fashion range aired on catwalks worldwide – including military uniforms – his unique ‘listening experience‘ live show, and ‘Sunday Service’ concept, Kanye has displayed his dynamic versatility across a range of art-forms. As his latest ‘burning church‘ routine in stadiums has proved, whether or not you connect with ‘Ye the man‘, few can deny the ability of ‘Yeezus the jeen-yuhs’.


‘THROUGH THE WIRE’ WAS HIS PIECE-DE-RESISTANCE

For every artist, one single stands at the summit as their undoubtable greatest achievement. For Mr. West, it was ‘Through The Wire’, from his debut album, ‘The College Dropout’. Serving as a comedic take on his near-fatal car-crash in 2002, Kanye tells the tale of how his jaw was held shut throughout his recovery, even rapping on the single through – you guessed it – a wire. Filming the video for the autobiographical recollection with zero budget, Kanye and Coodie (more to come on him, shortly) ventured around the streets of NYC, utilising camcorder footage to piece together an official production. It was later voted ‘Video of the Year’ at the 2004 Source Hip Hop Awards, was certified Platinum and Gold in the United Kingdom and United States, and helped Kanye to win ‘Best Best Rap Album‘ at the 2005 Grammy Awards… Cue iconic speech:


Though ‘jeen-yuhs’ tells the tale of Kanye, the real MVP of this production is ‘Coodie‘ (Clarence Ivy Simmons Jnr) the videographer who ditched his life in Chicago, to place full faith in Ye‘s career, and set up shop with him in Manhattan. Alongside Chike, the pair followed Kanye‘s every move, with little to no budget, documenting the future greatness of one of our generation’s most famed and fabled names. As time went on, Kanye drifted away from Coodie, instead choosing big-time director Hype Williams to help further his career. A particularly tragic moment in the trajectory of West is encapsulated when the pair are reunited years later, following the birth of Coodie‘s child ‘Ivy‘, and Kanye has forgotten his old pal’s name. Yeezus himself might have washed Coodie‘s impact from his subconscious, but via this documentary alone, the world will now always shine an ultralight beam on the star(s) of this show… Coodie and Chike.

‘jeen-yuhs‘ is out now on Netflix.

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