“See I invented Kanye, it wasn’t any Kanyes. And now I look and look around and there’s so many Kanyes” (West, 2016).
American rapper, producer, designer, and legendary creative Kanye West invented his image from the start. In the Netflix trilogy, Jeen-Yuhs, a documentary film produced by Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah, we watch Kanye’s career develop over the course of 20 years. The footage is raw, organic, and unedited as it reflects Kanye’s nature. The film highlights Kanye’s roots and how his mother, Donda West, impacted his life. She grounded him through every step of his journey to fame. He valued her advice and it seemed the more famous he got the more he wanted his mother around.
The documentary shows a vulnerable and human side of Kanye that we would have not seen without the work of Coodie and Chike. When Coodie met Kanye, his intuition told him that Kanye would be the next big thing. So he decided to take a risk and quit his job to follow Kanye around and capture his path to fame. Coodie documented it all as his brotherhood with Kanye evolved. Kanye’s personal growth and development progressed throughout the film and is depicted in each of his albums. As well as different stages of his life, specifically his thought processes. Kanye realized through his career just how much influential power he has. He used it to be outspoken yet transparent about his own struggles.
The key to Kanye’s success was the undeniable confidence that his mother encouraged him to have from the start. He preached to his audience that there’s nothing wrong with projectively being confident in yourself because it’s not arrogant of you to believe in your potential. Kanye took a long time to climb the music industry ladder, but he never lost hope as he knew that his dream would take off with his inevitable ambition. He knew he made it when people started hating on him and when his name became controversial. You would think this would have stopped him or made him trip up, but no, he fed off this and it pushed him more to the front of the line. He has strategy and has no doubt finessed the system.
Then his mental health collapsed in the public eye after his mother’s death and his wife was robbed. The public circulated claims of his mental breakdown and diagnosed bipolar disorder, just to prove you can have everything you want in the world and still struggle with mental health issues. When Kanye began to act irrationally in interviews and during his concerts, Coodie viewed it as Kanye’s way of crying for help. He went to check on his friend as they had spent some time apart. Kanye shortly bounced back after that as his next album consumed his mind. Being creative healed him as he was always in the best spirits when he was doing what he loved. He focused on furthering his relationship with God at the time and realized he wanted to use his music to share this part of himself. He took a step back and realized it was wrong for him to view himself as the God of culture, when in reality, culture was his God. Kanye never wanted to be perfect in the public eye, he wanted to prove we all make mistakes. The only perfect person to Kanye is God himself.
Versatility was another key aspect to Kanye’s success. Everything he releases or designs is a hit because it’s so unique to him. He has so many thoughts, visions, things he wants to accomplish. The way he thinks is so different and he illustrates his mind through creative outlets. In the documentary, the only visible mistake we see him make is bringing politics into his career. He likely does not regret this though as it was just a stepping stone for him. Anything Kanye put his mind to he never stopped doing until he fully accomplished it. You might say you miss the old Kanye but he is still there. We will see what’s next for him.
Coddie and Chike spotlighted this aspect of Kanye so vividly as the stylistic elements of the film were refreshing. You don’t need to be a Kanye fan to watch this film, as there’s something to take away from it for everyone. Whether that’s gathering inspiration from the film style, holding onto a piece of advice Kanye gave or was given, or watching for motivation in your own career. This film and Kanye alone are truly Jeen-Yuhs.