‘jeen-yuhs’ gives a glimpse into Ye’s tumultuous career

Cameron Levasseur, Associate Sports Editor

Kanye, Ye, Yeezus, whatever you want to call him, the man behind 10 No. 1 albums on the U.S. Billboard charts has proven himself to be one of the most impactful artists of our time.

‘jeen-yuhs’: A Kanye West Trilogy’ shows the journey of Kanye West’s rise to stardom. Photo by Kim Erlandsen / Flickr

“jeen-yuhs: A Kanye West Trilogy,” a 4.5-hour documentary released in three installments on Netflix this past month, follows the polarizing 44-year-old producer-turned-rapper from the beginning of his career in the late 1990s to the present day.

The film was shot, directed and produced by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons Jr. and Chike Ozah, Ye’s lifelong friends who met the superstar in his early 20s. Their relationship with Ye

allows the documentary to take a raw, honest look into his life. As a whole, the production was fantastic. To have a documentary relying solely on archival footage with no formal interviews flow well is difficult to accomplish, and Simmons and Ozah nailed it.

Most of the footage comes through the perspective of Simmons, who seemingly becomes the main character at points as he takes viewers on a journey through the ups and downs of his own life.

These cutaways from Ye make the film feel more personal, but ultimately distract from the point of the documentary. There are times when it seems like home-video footage snuck into the final edit.

The first two acts look at Ye’s early career up until the release of his debut studio album “The College Dropout” in 2004. It’s a real dive into his struggles trying to attain validation as a rapper, and it gives viewers insight into his psyche before fame.

A behind-the-scenes look into the production of songs such as “Slow Jamz” and “Through the Wire” is a fascinating watch for Ye’s fans.

As Ye rose to superstardom, his social circles grew bigger, and adversely, the time Simmons and Ozah spent with him shrunk. The documentary looked all but over, and it was six years before they picked up the camera again.

When they did, the year was 2014, it was no longer the same Ye who looked to solidify himself in the industry, as Simmons himself acknowledges in the narration. Before Ye had called himself a genius, this was now in the age of Yeezus. The song “I Am A God,” released a year prior, was a declaration of his mindset, and it showed in the documentary.

It seems as if in the wake of his mother’s death, Ye’s outward, egocentric persona grew significantly. “jeen-yuhs” portrays Donda West as the rapper’s grounding point, and his mental state seemed to shift more toward unstable following her death in 2007.

Ye was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016, and his often-erratic nature is shown especially throughout the later stages of the final act.

He even says during a rant at his Cody, Wyoming, ranch amid his failed presidential campaign in 2020, that “I do not communicate in a way that people understand in public.”

Ye’s public outbursts in recent years have often fallen back on his strong religious beliefs, the undertones of which can be seen all through the footage.

If there’s one clear message throughout the documentary, it’s that no matter what adversity or controversy Ye faces, he always maintains a strong belief in God and himself. In his mind, he always has been and always will be a genius. Or in this case, a “jeen-yuhs.”

The documentary is a worthwhile watch regardless of whether you are a fan of Ye or not. It’s an honest look behind the scenes with one of the most influential musicians and individuals in Western culture in the 21st century, made by those who really knew him.