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Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy; Kanye West and True Friendship. Grade: B+

Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy undoubtedly one of the most anticipated documentary films in the past decade, so much hype around this four hour plus project that actually had a Sundance Film Festival premiere even. Whether you’re a fan of Kanye, fan of music, fan of hip hop, or not a fan of Kanye… I feel this documentary will spark interest by almost everyone, as Kanye West is without doubt one of the most fascinating superstars in existence due to his personality.

The three part documentary film will mainly show case Kanye’s early years breaking through the music industry, his friendship with the film maker behind this film named Coodie, and also minimal coverage of Kanye the last seven years or so.

Was hoping to watch this documentary film in theaters, but unfortunately only the first part of this documentary had a theatrical release, which made me decided not to attend. It’s a major disappointment the entirety of this documentary wasn’t released in theaters, however the fact this project exists… Special time we’re living. Say no more: Let’s talk about Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy and break it down part by part.

Act 1: Vision

Our journey of Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy begins with learning about the individual behind the camera by the name of Coodie Williams. Coodie used to work as a stand up comedian, until he met Kanye West as he left that career path behind to openly record Kanye during his humble beginnings of trying to get signed as a rapper. I admire the fact we get a back story on the individual whom helped started on this project, way before Kanye popped up on the scene, it makes it a whole lot special and even more so inspiring that an individual leaving their career behind, having full trust in ones vision in making in big amongst their own dream.

Coodie also explains what inspired him to make this project, as it’s not only because of Kanye’s uniqueness to hip hop, but also being inspired by the 1994 Documentary film Hoop Dreams. I feel we can fault the film maker for revealing what kind of style he was going for with this documentary, as we want to leave it up to the viewer as what helm this style, however considering the fact not many viewers have seen that film… I thought it was appropriate as not only explaining the influence behind the project, but also introducing a hidden gem to viewers in which could help them see the film, which I loved that film by the way as I can totally see the resemblance in film making style.

In this chapter it’s really all about humble beginnings for the up and coming rapper Kanye West. Kanye West is established in the hip hop industry, as he paved his way to the game as a producer. Kanye has made a killing off of his beats as it helped him put food on table, while also producing a song from the likes of New York legend rapper Jay Z. Though Kanye has done a fair amount for many rappers in the industry, nobody took Kanye seriously as a rapper as there were many labels extremely hesitant to sign him. At first you feel it’s odd because out of all hip hop artists in the industry, you would think Kanye would be the last person on earth to have nobody notice his incredible ability?! However: I feel the reason being is because he’s paving the way for music for the future, as quite clearly they don’t understand what he’s capable of bringing to the music scene for the long run, as most artists only think about the short run.

As we’ve come to know Kanye, we’ve always noticed how prideful and confident he is of himself, which I believe has helped him achieved a great amount of success. How so?! Well as we see Kanye being brushed off to the side or ignored: Kanye makes sure he’s noticed, as he goes around a record label, going by office and office playing All Falls Down repeatedly as he’s determined to make a name for himself. Not a handful of people are willingly to make a valid effort to get noticed, but Kanye’s drive and hustle has always been his strongest trait as it has never changed one bit… We can all learn from this moment, that if you want to be somebody, you got to want it more than anyone even if you make a fool out of yourself, because who knows what could happen right?!

One of the strongest moments in Act 1: Vision is moments where Kanye is with his mother. At the very moment he steps to his mothers doorstep, you can sense a whole new wave of energy that features a side of Kanye West you never have experience before. His mother Donda West really brings the pure joy out of Kanye, as it almost feels like this is the one lone person Kanye knows he can be himself and know he’s not going to be judged whatsoever, as the bond, connection, and love this mom/son duo have for each other will never come close to anyone Kanye comes across with in life. I feel when people whom have questioned Kanye as a person, as why he can be a bit emotionally unstable at times… Watching these moments explains itself, like if you had a person that made someone that purely happy, the way his mother made him feel, how exactly is one suppose to go forward as being emotionally stable?! You can try your very best, but losing someone like that is equivalent to the world ending.

The music moments in this chapter were pretty sick. I really enjoyed hearing the reactions of listeners, hearing songs from Kanye’s College Dropout for the first time as he was in development of his album as we speak. Of course the main highlight in terms of music moments has got to be Kanye free-styling along back stage, as his raw energy while spitting bars while actually rapping something deep and meaningful can bring anyone goosebumps.

Having the first act being titled Vision feels perfectly fitting, as it’s really all about one’s clear vision in which no one saw but the visionary himself. No one really believed Kanye was going to be where he’s at from the jump other than Kanye, as those whom were willing to take a chance on him like Coodie was willing to… They would get rewarded BIG TIME, where others have missed out big time. It felt like a very inspirational chapter, as even when the going gets tough and no one cares to notice your worth… Don’t ever give up on yourself, if you see your true worth, give it your all and never stop working or being relentless with it till the deed is done, very moving stuff.

The ending t’was a satisfying conclusion to the first act, however I must have to point out something particularly odd when it comes to Kanye celebrating after being signed. Kanye has always claimed he loved McDonalds, however after he got signed…. He celebrates at a Burger King?! That moment felt extremely odd considering the fact Kanye has always loved McDonalds and even rapped about McDonalds as well, I needed some more explanation on that moment.

Act 2: Purpose

Our journey of Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy continues where as one thought, Kanye West being signed would atomically make him a successful artist… Turns out it’s still a steep hill to climb over to where Kanye needed to be. It honestly felt like the same exact treatment, only this time signing him would just mean they had ownership over Kanye. In this chapter, Kanye would have to put in a whole lot of effort, in order to complete his debut album The College Dropout and to be granted a release date.

It all starts off with Kanye making his way into a studio session with Jay Z, as he was blessed enough to be featured on his album The Blueprint 2. Now that Kanye was featured on one of the hottest hip hop artists out there, there was a fair amount of momentum that perhaps his debut album will be in the works very soon. Unfortunately for Kanye while in Los Angeles working on music for another artist, he suddenly gets into a car crash which many feared this could be a tragic ending to the up and coming rap artist. Fortunately Kanye was alive after the accident, however he broke his jaw in three places as Coodie feared he may never rapped again.

This accident could’ve prevented Kanye from going any further with his dream, as the momentum switch could’ve drastically changed over a traumatizing event like almost losing your own life. However: The complete opposite happened, as the car crash honestly made Kanye much stronger mentally, as the crash boosted his drive even further, that it felt like it was Gods Plan to get this album out to the world.

Though Kanye wasn’t granted a budget from his label or granted a release for his debut album, Kanye had to literally put everything he had in his disposal in order to make that happen. For studio time he would be asking favors from fellow peer musicians to get songs recorded, for his first major music video he would have to not only be granted a favor from MTV to finish it up, but Kanye would have to dive deep in his own pockets in order to make the video happen.

I really enjoyed how the transition of this chapter compared to the previous chapter kept the same high energy momentum, in terms of show casing just how dedicated Kanye was to make a name for himself. There are so many obstacles in front of him which would make many throw in the towel, but for Kanye even in times of tragedy… His hustle and determination is out matched, as not even death could even stop Kanye from being the artist he wants to be.

The main highlight of this part of the documentary to me was the development of the music video Through the Wire. The whole concept on the song itself as Kanye’s teeth was attached by some kind of barb wire, in which can be an immense struggle for one to communicate was not only brilliant but also very courageous. The fact he was able to deliver a comprehensible song in which one can fully understand, what Kanye was rapping in his song while being heavily restricted in terms of his vocals, was like every single persons reaction to the song…. Lost for words. I loved the whole idea of the video documenting people’s reaction to the song and the story behind the song, while also creating a form of inspiration to viewers that in a moment of tragedy… You still can manage through the pain, become stronger, and still go forward with anything as long as you’re determine to do so.

With this chapter it’s quite clear that when Kanye speaks out on the music industry as a whole, now we all understand where it exactly it all started. Like the fact that it took Kanye so much time, effort, and money out of his own pockets in order for his record label to grant him the opportunity to be able to even for a bare minimum have a release date set for his project… It’s just blasphemous, like why exactly did you sign him as an artist if you won’t even grant him a freaking release slot for his album?!

There’s a few cool neat moments of the album coming all together, as we get to see the artists whom were featured on the album be seen in their studio sessions. The music video release was a very special moment indeed, for once it actually made the owner of the label open his eyes for the first time that grant Kanye what he needed in order to have The College Dropout in existence. It’s quite grand just to see how much time, effort, and sacrifices were made for The College Dropout to even exist, which makes the debut project even more special of an album now knowing the history behind it all.

Though in the end of the chapter a great amount of success was delivered for Kanye, as he’s now established in the industry, the album being a major success, and winning Grammy’s… There seems to be a minor shift in terms with who Kanye started this journey with, with regards to Coodie. Though Coodie helped Kanye immensely developing his first major music video Through the Wire, their relationship started to have a minor shift, as Kanye wanted to work with other established directors, while Coodie went ahead and worked with other artists. We’re curious to know if this relationship would soon come to an end, however considering what follows in the finale as Coodie was part of the Jesus Walks video shoot…. There is a fair amount of hope their relationship could be stable, as the journey ahead of the final chapter looks about promising to say the least.

As one whom had their wisdom teeth out, I would like to point out our recovery diets in terms of our dental work are strangely different. Kanye chose to eat mashed potatoes and some kind of cheese dish not sure if it was nachos or chili cheese fries, meanwhile I had to be tortured with apple sauce, milkshakes, yogurt, and Angel hair pasta… So it was interesting to see one having a different diet in terms of that situation at hand.

I felt this middle chapter of the trilogy t’was pretty good, it’s about the same quality in terms of visuals from the first chapter, followed by being throughly engaging in terms of substance, I really enjoyed the fact this is another very moving and inspirational chapter as well. Considering the final thirty seconds of the final chapter… Looks like we’re in for a very wild conclusion of this trilogy indeed.

Act 3: Awakening

Our journey of Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy concludes skimming through six years of Kanye’s life, while making an surprising return of a beloved duo. Coodie and Kanye weren’t involved in each other’s lives at all from 2008-2014, so us having any chances of having an insight look of Kanye’s life from those years weren’t possible to achieved. Though Coodie felt kind of bummed out over the fact he wasn’t involved in Kanye’s life, Coodie had a much bigger gift in store… Becoming a father. Coodie has embraced fatherhood to the fullest, as it turns out to be the happiest time of his life, more so the greatest accomplishment of his life.

Early on we experience Kanye’s rise to fame from an era of Late Registration and Graduation, as we get in depth look of Kanye’s relationship with his mother. Kanye’s love for his mother never slowed down a bit, in fact it felt as if the more famous Kanye got, the more he wanted to show off his mother even more to the public. It was a beautiful thing to experience, that no matter how famous Kanye gotten, he always made room to express love to his mother as that is without a doubt his favorite person in the entire world. Also the charity event held by Donda and Kanye was a adorable moment to experience as well.

As we come to experience a sudden 911 call that included Kanye’s mother, suffering a heart attack… She would tragically passed at the age of 58. Not only was Coodie sadden by this discovery, but the entire world honestly was devastated over this lost. But Coodie was heavily concerned for Kanye, as he has no idea how Kanye was going to take this lost.

As we skim through the early years of grieving: It’s clear Kanye was an entire different person, as he’s more in tune with rage and aggression through the quick clips. I found it unfortunate that we didn’t get to see much of a exclusive look on how Kanye was handling this process, as we only got to see what many of us have already seen from news outlets, Television appearances, or online videos. But considering Coodie and Kanye were no longer in contact with each other… It’s understandable, just wish we could’ve gotten a speaker or two discussing their involvement with Kanye during this long time period.

Coodie and Kanye reunited thanks to a Common music festival taken place in Chicago, as things soon to look up with reuniting this partnership between Kanye and Coodie.

During this seven year time period… Thankfully we get some of a exclusive insight look of Kanye, we do however go through the same kind of formula in terms of heavily skimming and flashing back. I found the exclusive behind the scenes footage to be quite intriguing yet refreshing. While the media is trying to take down this artist, claiming he’s a horrible person and that he’s crazy… In real life turns out he’s just a normal human being, going through the motions with life. Like we see Kanye working on projects, Kanye working on ideas in terms of clothing or other wide and bright ideas in terms of impacting the world, Kanye just having real conversations with people on how he feels and such.

Though I will say this chapter may be my least favorite of the first two as it doesn’t quite capture the high end momentum it was on, it’s a chapter in which capped off a much fitting conclusion over this 4+ hour story. What this chapter really showed me is how there was a period where Kanye lost himself during this process of grieving and within the world around him.

I believe his mother Donda was his guide to navigate through the journey of life, any day at hand Kanye felt capable of handling life as a whole because he knows his beloved mother will be there to help him through any kind of day good or bad, as she knows how to pick his sprit up. Knowing Donda was no longer with us… I feel Kanye just didn’t know how to navigate life as a whole, especially handling his emotions.

The awakening part really comes from, where Kanye brought himself back to following Christ. I feel when Kanye spoken out how he really feels that was unpopular to the majority, it really woken up Kanye spiritually. Like Kanye really didn’t say anything wrong, he just made an opinion that was unpopular that surely the media and even the public went out as they bashed the man. Kanye went into a mental breakdown, as I felt when he came out of that breakdown… It brought him back to where he needed to be within himself. He wasn’t looking to secure approval of others no longer, he was only looking to secure approval by his lord and savior, as I felt that was the main message of the awakening chapter of this story.

It’s really special to see Kanye changed completely, despite the mishaps and such. His focus and drive to address mental health whether it be his “I Feel Like That” music video or with Kids See Ghost t’was truly genuine as it was cool to see that all come to life. I really enjoyed Kanye coming to God fully, as he developed his Gospel Choir as he was onward to make a gospel album.

I wish there was more in depth regarding the Jesus is King album, but more so with his involvement with running for President. There’s not much clarification as to why he ran or why now is the time considering he missed deadlines so he has a fair chance of winning. It felt more like a side hustle I would say, like he was more involved with partaking in other ideas at hand than being involved in trying to win an election, so that part was very confusing some as I wish there was clarification in that area.

The whole portion of Kanye’s speech down in South Carolina t’was interesting. Everything that the media has expressed about Kanye on this moment felt completely false, as while others worried he was losing his mind and that he needed immense help… He was fairly stable, as he was back to work in doing something else.

I think he appreciated his friends reaching out to him and wanting to spend time with him, but as far as the outcry that there was something wrong with what he said… I feel he’s fully secure on his point of view, while also being offended. Like you can clearly in the footage where Kanye is watching Tucker Carlson: You see him screaming out in joy, where Tucker thinks what Kanye said made logical sense in his stance against abortion and that he’s not crazy at all in expressing how he feels.

Whatever your stance on abortion is: It seems completely absurd that people had a problemnwith Kanye being a proud and prideful father as the idea of aborting his children made him extremely upset. I’m going to assume all these people that had a problem or claimed Kanye needs to seek help on his stance, don’t have kids of their own…. If you never have kids of your own, you have no idea how creating the gift of life really changes you as a person, as it makes you feel completely whole as a person. I may not have kids of my own and I’m neutral on this subject matter because I understand both sides, but I damn well understand I’m not going to disrespect parents for being prideful over their children like Kanye was to his, you guys got some serious issues shaming a prideful father. There was never anything wrong with Kanye in this moment, if anything we should all be proud that man truly loves his kids and honors the role of a father, why aren’t we encouraging more men to be prideful about being strong proud fathers?! The household with a strong father figure makes a HUGE difference for a child’s life, the studies have proven from the documentary film Show Me the Father.

Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy Wrap Up:

Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy delivers in my opinion, as I really appreciated what this documentary had to offer. The film making style t’was pretty dope, I really enjoyed the authentic feel as a whole as compared to other Netflix style documentary films, this one actually generates a refreshing look behind the way it’s shot.

The biggest strength for Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy that it doesn’t feel like a documentary film, it feels more like a well told narrative of what true friendship looks like. The whole relationship ordeal between Coodie and Kanye is a element in the story that really makes the documentary a whole lot more special, as I feel it’s going to be one that’ll make viewers clearly understand what a real friendship looks like.

Real friends are not all about receiving/giving high end gifts, giving them satisfaction by being just a Yes Man and agreeing with everything they say, or being by their side everyday 24/7. Real Friends is where one is there with an individual through everything, from the highs and especially lows, from separation, and knowing they can count on them at any given moment especially to be there for them when it truly matters.

Coodie may have been given many reasons why to stop being friends with Kanye, however because of their established relationship and knowing Kanye as a person… The man stood by him because he genuinely cared about him, he knew Kanye valued their friendship, where it didn’t matter if his needs weren’t fully satisfied with regards to their relationship. Many real friends understand that life is a challenging process and sometimes you get caught up in the moment or work yourself extremely hard to where you don’t have enough time for people, that’s why real friends have patience for their friends. So Coodie though was briefly sadden, he knew that it wasn’t intentional to hurt him in any way, which is why Coodie stood and waited till Kanye was able to have enough time to reunite… That’s what real friends are all about. The only complaint really to make of the friendship dynamic, is why the documentary did not capped off with Real Friends?! Whomever was in the editing room: How do you not cap off the film with that iconic song by Kanye, where it’s centered around a real friend?! WHACK.

Each act was pretty solid, would’ve liked the same kind of high end momentum from the third act translated from the first two acts, however I really enjoyed them all. I understand there is a whole lot information viewers would like to see from this kind of documentary which I’m in agreement as well, however considering this is a story told by Coodie’s perspective of the journey… For what it is, it’s still pretty good and the substance value was informative enough. Who knows if another Kanye West documentary film will be in the works, however Jeen-Yuhs is a very superb one that’ll be hard to top considering how genuine this project is.

Overall, Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy was a pretty damn good documentary film. I highly recommend checking this one out on Netflix, definitely worth the four plus hour run time indeed. I guess I’ll cap off this long review on a high and controversial note: There is no way in Gods Name is Donda 2 better than Donda, whomever is having this kind of debate, word to Kanye: Go Find God. -Mitch Smietana

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