Kanye West is one of the biggest artists to ever come out of Chicago. Over the past decade, he’s been seen as one of the most controversial as well. But that wasn’t always how he was. Released on Netflix, Kanye released a documentary showing his upbringings in the music scene and how he came to be where he is today.
“Jeen-yuhs” was released in three parts and starts off with Kanye being brought in as just a producer for up and coming rappers. Early in the first part, you see the beginning of what really made Kanye into who he is. The documentary is narrated by Kanye’s longtime friend Croodie, who put his comedy career on hold to join Kanye on his journey. Croodie filmed Kanye constantly, documenting his first music deal and album, “College Dropout.”
The first part of the documentary covers the struggles it took Kanye to get signed to a label. By 2000 he was being recognized for making beats for Jay-Z, Scarface and others. The documentary then goes into how his relationship strengthened within some of the big names in the rap scene, but no one took his rapping seriously. He was just looked at as a producer and as much as the head of the labels loved his beats, they just wouldn’t take him seriously with his writing and rapping abilities.
After having to string in a bunch of mixtapes and spend money out of his own pocket, he decided to focus on making a music video to get their attention. He spent over $30,000 of his own money to create his first big hit, “Through The Wire.” The song details an illustrative point of view of what Kanye went through after he almost lost his life in a car crash. His jaw was wired shut and immediately made labels turn away from him being signed as an artist. They assumed because his jaw was broken in three places that he wouldn’t be able to sing or rap. The video made MTV’s top 20 Hottest Videos and was enough to get him a deal as an artist with Def Jam Records.
Going into the second part of the documentary, Croodie follows the aftermath of the release of “College Dropout”, starting with Kanye winning multiple Grammys for his freshman album. Following the release of “Late Registration”, his sophomore album, the documentary highlights the success he is finally reaching. However, things start to turn as Kanye’s stardom begins to take off. He is becoming who he always wanted to be and is finally getting respect from the people he looked up to.
Until the end of 2007, when Kanye’s mother, Donda West, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 58. The documentary highlighted Kanye’s love for his mother. Donda was his biggest inspiration as she supported him every step of the way from the very beginning. She began managing him after he rose to fame and was a big part of his career following his success. The news of her death ends the second part of the documentary and leaves viewers with an idea of how these events will essentially alter Kanye’s life.
Croodie and Kanye’s relationship began deteriorating as Kanye rose to heights many artists he looked up to haven’t even seen. At the same time, Croodie felt it was time for him to start focusing on his life. He became a father and started directing music videos for other artists after directing Kanye’s first video. As Croodie’s filming of the documentary started to be less, the world started recording Kanye’s every move.
Part three highlights the image Kanye began to create with his controversial actions. Starting off with him grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift at an award show as she was accepting her award to his many run-ins with the paparazzi. The Kanye that was being shown at the start of the documentary definitely changed as he began being hated by much of the world in the later stages of his career. His failed political campaign was the height of controversy after showing his public support for Donald Trump. His own fans began turning on him and to top it off he was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment. It was revealed that he had gone through a bi-polar episode, which was the main reason for those outbreaks.
The documentary closes out with the release of his latest album “Donda”. The documentary gives viewers a deeper look into what Kanye had gone through in order to be who he is today. Many called him crazy and others called him a genius. As shown in the first part, a young Kanye is seen arguing with fellow artist Rhymefest about being upset for his friend not calling him a genius. The argument was a perfect example of the confidence he had in himself. He saw who he could be well before others did and when he tried to tell them they laughed. The title “Jeen-yuhs” fits perfectly when describing what Kanye West’s career ultimately became, a success.