Kanye West’s Rise to Fame Exhibited in New Documentary


Image/ Netflix

After nearly two decades in the making, “Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” was released weekly through Netflix beginning on Feb. 16 of this year. Three episodes document the rise of Chicago rapper Kanye West, one of the most polarizing and captivating artists of modern music. Filmed and directed by Chicago native Coodie Simmons, the documentary has plenty of never-before-seen footage of the artist. After West’s recent media buzz regarding his divorce with Kim Kardashian, the documentary gives insight on the artist before he became the star he is today. 

As Kanye gained notoriety as a hip-hop producer, working for stars like Jay-Z, his career as a rapper was slow to take off. He worked independently for years, unable to get a deal from any record label. Eventually, he was signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, founded by Jay-Z. After his signing and a life-threatening car accident, West began to gain the traction he felt he deserved. After releasing the music video for “Through the Wire,” a song about his accident, listeners and other rappers noticed the talent that West had. In 2004, he released his debut album “The College Dropout.” The album would garner 10 Grammy nominations and cement West as one of the most popular and unique rappers in the industry. 

Another focus of the documentary is West’s mental health, as he suffers from Bipolar Disorder. The final episode of the series features footage from West’s bipolar episodes in recent years, where his Twitter rants and outlandish statements have garnered criticism from many. Throughout the first two episodes, West’s mother kept him grounded and supported his rise to stardom. After her death in 2007 due to plastic surgery complications, the mental health of West took a turn for the worse. The documentary shows how much the death of Donda West affected Kanye, and how his controversial personality can be attributed to the absence of his mother. 

“Jeen-Yuhs” also documents the complicated relationship between director Coodie Simmons and Kanye West as he garners more and more popularity. Although Simmons supported West for longer than nearly anyone, the two grew apart as he became less mentally stable and reliable. After years without contact, Simmons watched from the sideline as West grew into arguably the most popular rapper of the decade. Eventually, he and West would meet again, but not with the focus of completing the documentary. Simmons reached out to West due to concern regarding his mental health. In the last episode, Simmons often has to cut the camera during conversations because of West’s unpredictable mental illness. 

For all fans of Kanye West, this documentary is a must-watch. The amount of unseen footage and detailed documentation of West’s rise to fame will intrigue supporters new and old. “Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” will introduce many to another side of the polarizing artist that is Kanye West.