Since his divorce with Kim Kardashian, the world has only been exposed to one version of Kanye West: a version that people often describe as “crazy,” “manipulative,” or “psycho.” Episode 1 of Netflix’s newest docuseries “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” dropped on Wednesday and showcases a completely different side of West, all filmed by his best friend and filmographer Coodie Simmons.
As we all know, West is one of the most influential figures in all of hip-hop and, arguably, pop culture. While it is undeniable that he possesses an incredible amount of talent, he is often criticized for many of his erratic and infuriating behaviors. Just a few days ago West deleted all of his pictures on Instagram, replacing them with screenshots of his messages with Kim Kardashian’s new boyfriend, Pete Davidson, telling Davidson he will never be able to meet his and Kardashian’s kids. His erratic behavior has slowly soured his public perception, but that wasn’t always who Kanye was.
“jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” takes the audience on a journey, beginning with when West was just starting out. After producing successful beats in his hometown of Chicago, he ventured out to New York City where he aspired to replace other rappers’ voices on his beats with his own. Only 20 years ago, West first signed with Roc-A-Fella Records after being denied by numerous other labels.
West is often described as a narcissistic egomaniac, but the documentary portrays this aspect of his personality as mere drive. No matter how many times West faced rejection, he never stopped giving up. He transformed rejection into determination and continued to believe in himself, even when no one else did.
I’m the first to admit that I often look down upon West’s actions, even in how he handled certain situations with his family. However, I’m grateful to have been able to see a different side of his life, one before he got sucked into fame. One of the strongest aspects of the docuseries is its original footage style. Rather than having West speak over photos, the audience is able to see him interact with those around him through real, raw footage. I even witnessed how genuinely special his relationship with his mother, Donda, was. Even during interviews, West would always see that he doesn’t owe anybody anything, besides his mother. He has spoken about how her death has traumatized him, but the footage showcases their special and grounding bond firsthand. If it wasn’t for Donda, West would never have had the stable foundation that led him to unimaginable success.
While I knew the docuseries would be interesting, I was surprised by how much I loved it. I believe it’s important to look deeper than what is shown on the media or through Instagram. Everyone, whether you’re West or not, struggles; the only difference with West is that he’s famous.
If you’re interested in learning more about West’s story, Episode 1 of “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” is available on Netflix. Episode 2 will be released on Wednesday, Feb. 23.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars