Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy review – a surprisingly endearing documentary

By Adam Lock
Published: February 12, 2022
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Netflix documentary series Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy


Act 1 is a detailed and endearing documentary about the billionaire rapper’s early years, before the stardom and craziness.

This review of the Netflix documentary series Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy does not contain spoilers and is based on Act 1. 

Nearly all of the footage in “Act 1 – Visions” was recorded by co-director Coodie Simmons, who was filming the Chicago-based producer Kanye West even before he was famous. The idea of Kanye choosing to be filmed from day one is either an incredible foresight or sheer ego. Funnily enough, these two notions perfectly sum up the megastar, he’s a creative genius and a narcissist. West’s career and complex personality has always been a mixture of contradictions and polar extremes, that’s why he’s one of the most fascinating celebrities on planet Earth today. Any documentary of his life would have to be just as conflicting – restrained and yet extensive.

The sprawling documentary is split into three sections, with Act 1 released on Netflix on February 16th. Part one chronicles the early years of West’s career, from the late 90s to the early 00s. Coodie’s footage has a retro, fly-on-the-wall feel to it, capturing behind-the-scenes material of him pre-College Dropout. All the future traits of Kanye West are clearly there on display, but we see another side to the rapper as well. He appears vulnerable and grounded at times. The confidence and swagger are undeniable, yet this softer side prevails. He wears a retainer, which gives him this geeky lisp, and the multiple setbacks he faces seem to hurt him more visibly.

This relatable Kanye West, struggling to make it big, desperate for the limelight, harkens back to the old days. A forgotten side to Mr. West that has been swallowed by the controversy and craziness that followed. His mega rise to stardom, the celebrity behemoth, and billionaire businessman is a long way away in these early years, but not completely absent. We see the young producer working on his debut album and hustling to become the latest member of Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records.

His determination to make it big is commendable and thoroughly engaging, however, it’s his relationship with his mother that really makes this documentary shine. Coodie captures some beautiful moments of Kanye with mum Donda. She’s a lovely, positive woman, who builds him up and lets his creativity flourish. A return to his first family home makes for a charming scene. A bashful Kanye West reminisces on days gone by and thanks his mother for what she has given him.

Whatever your thoughts are about Kanye West, the musician, the fashion designer, there is no denying his artistry and drive. Fans will lap this docu series up and those haters out there will at least be intrigued, possibly surprised by his origin story. It’s great to see the music industry in motion and the vision of an artist in his prime. A compelling insight into one of the world’s most notorious celebrities and his journey to the big time.

What did you think of the Netflix documentary series Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy? Comment below. 

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix. 

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
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