Review: “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy”

Netflix’s new docuseries, “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy,” is truly genius…for the first two-thirds, at least. That’s not a bad average for such an ambitious project.

Assembled from footage recorded by old friends who have been trailing the mercurial rap star with a camera for over 20 years, “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” spans more than four hours divided into chunks of about 90 minutes each.

The three-part Kanye documentary made by Netflix is about Kanye West’s journey in the making of his first album “The College Dropout” to his life now filmed by his friend, Coodie.

Viewers can exclusively watch the documentary on Netflix and no other streaming services. Kanye released the documentary on February 23, and released each segment every Wednesday afterward.

The first two episodes cover an intense time from the late 1990s until the mid 2000s, when Kanye had to convince the rap world he was more than just a talented producer.

Unlikely as it seems now, back then, rap labels and executives weren’t sure that this skinny kid who had cooked up compelling beats for Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri and Foxy Brown could really sell records on his own as a rapper, particularly after Kanye was in a car accident that created serious concerns about whether he could ever spit rhymes again.

The last installment ranges from the mid 2000s to 2020, when his friends – filmmakers Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah – grew distant from Kanye and couldn’t provide the fly-on-the-wall perspective that makes the first two parts such a treasure.

Here, the most valuable moments are when Simmons lets the camera run as Kanye jumps from topic to topic in a way that appears as if his mind is racing too fast for his mouth to keep up. The way the documentary was filmed had been very captivating with untold stories leading to what Kanye was and is.

The documentary also touches on Kanye’s mental health struggles. We see the various outbursts at his concerts, as well as his presidential rallies. We see all sides of Kanye in “jeen-yuhs,” and it doesn’t shy away from the troubling times in both his life and career.

Understandably, his divorce and relationship with Kim Kardashian didn’t receive much screen time as that situation continues through the court system. In my opinion, though, I think the documentary was released to get more sales of his new album-release “Donda.”