New Netflix documentary chronicles Kanye West’s rise


Netflix newsroom

Maya Alexander

Kanye West isn’t quite himself at the moment. As the old versus new trope begins to get a bit tired, even long-time fans can probably admit that the rapper is entering into a bit of a gray period. For one, he actually isn’t Kanye West anymore, at least in name.

Currently going by the monosyllabic, “Ye,” which he will further be referred to as in the article, the rapper is seemingly at a crossroads. His recent spats with ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her boyfriend, Pete Davidson, on social media have landed Ye’s name in a salacious TMZ headline nearly every day this month.

Yet, his biggest problems remain in his music.

Ye released his 11th studio album “Donda 2” last week, promoted with a public concert held on Feb. 22. Marred with technical difficulties and bad press due to invited performers, the concert along with the new album has been criticized, with critics doubting the future of the rapper’s career.

Amid the controversy, however, arrived something to remind people of his genius.

The first act of a documentary entitled, “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” arrived on Netflix on Feb. 16. “jeen-yuhs” chronicles Ye’s career from his very early days as an up-and-coming Chicago producer to the billion-dollar entity whose impact has been felt within both the music and fashion worlds.

The first part of the documentary called “VISON” is placed within the first few years of Ye’s life as a successful producer for artists like Jay-Z and Cam’ron. Yet despite his success in producing, Ye had a clear desire to break out as a rapper.

This break would come from his first studio album, “The College Dropout,” which is where the first part of the documentary ends off. What is shown in between showcases is an artist with an unrelenting drive, confidence and a slight ego, that is actually backed up by the work that he creates.

Narrated by Ye’s friend, Coodie — who also filmed all of the footage shown in the documentary — it’s clear that Ye was no “flash in the pan” overnight success. There are some real gems of footage showing a young Ye among rap legends like Da Brat and Harlem World. Ye was the producer responsible for Harlem World’s only album, “The Movement.”

After a move to New York, the musician’s big break comes from the tracks he produces for Jay-Z’s classic album, “The Blueprint.” In particular, the song “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” which featured a flipped Jackson 5 sample. This production propelled Ye into the spotlight as one of the hottest rap producers in the industry.

At this point, the documentary could have focused on the heights he experienced as an in-demand producer, but instead, it shifts gears and showcases the making of the rapper. In a drab room, we see Ye in the middle of creating one of the most quintessential tracks, “All Falls Down.”

It is mind-blowing seeing the making of the song. Viewers get the chills because they see how this influential track came to be, knowing how much it helped bolster his career. No longer would he be just the producer, but he would become the rapper, songwriter and just about everything else.

The silence in the room is prophetic; it’s almost like everyone there understood this was rap history in the making. What makes the whole thing even more impactful is how badly received the track was when he first played it to an unimpressed record executive.

That rejection highlights the true genius of Ye. While some people might gripe about perceived cockiness and selfishness on his part, what cannot be ignored is the pure confidence in his abilities. It’s something that only he is able to realize and the rest will catch up in about five- or ten-years’ time.

Two out of three parts of “jeen-yuhs” are available to stream on Netflix.