Jeen-Yuhs Trilogy: A Chronicle of a Polarizing Artist’s Rise to Fame

Jeen-Yuhs Trilogy: A Chronicle of a Polarizing Artist’s Rise to Fame

Charley Levine, Staff Writer

Kanye West. Chicago’s polarizing hip-hop producer-turned-rapper whose name provokes infuriation and rolling eyes, but also an eminent multi-hyphenate of the 21st century whose contributions to music and fashion are indisputably significant. While mostly recognized for his narcissistic, captivating statements, Kanye’s story portrays the enduring struggles and the scrambling hustle of a black man at war with his circumstances and self. While many find him merely a provocative character, the undeniable breadth of his brilliance is truly remarkable and commendable. So whatever opinions you may foster, the time is now to watch Netflix’s new jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, an exceptional chronicle of Kanye’s story and a heartwarming tribute to his kind mother, Donda.

As a casual admirer of West’s music, although certainly no extreme Kanye enthusiast as many of my peers boast to be, I had never pondered beyond the artist’s lyrics and into the man’s story. Rather, I simply relished the flawless rhymes that effortlessly flowed over the rhythms. Since I had never delved into the man’s history, I had only associated his name with the unfettered persona that much of society made him out to be. While I do acknowledge his absurd retorts and irrational comments that have been captured by the media, after February 16th, the day of his documentary’s release on Netflix, my perception of him was immediately altered.

It was on an arbitrary Wednesday evening after school when I was aimlessly strolling through Netflix that I stumbled upon the West’s contentious face. As I glanced at the screen, bold, emphasized print read, jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy. With time on my hands and no schedule to follow, my lingering curiosity was attracted to the print. So, I journeyed onward, unaware of the impact that the film would have on my perception of West. Now, days later, I eagerly recommend the trilogy to all audiences, fans or not. 

What I most admired about the film was its portrayal of West’s frequently frustrating journey to fame. The scenes that conveyed his unquenchable thirst for more in his career, which he used as the fuel to journey onward, were most inspiring; his share of trial and error in the early stages of his career were the most heartening. After the accumulating rejections he faced as a young artist, the documentary showed the scene of a particularly significant afternoon when West strolled, unannounced, into Rock-A-Fella records, an acclaimed record label that West had previously been rejected by. As he approached a few of the company’s employees, while the office cacophony of ringing telephones and chatter amongst the workers drains out his presence, West kept his composure as he set up his equipment in a room before a working woman. Then, without thinking twice, he projected his voice and began to rap his newest craft, All Falls Down. Although it is now one of rap’s most esteemed songs, the piece was given little respect at first. While you would think that such a bold move would stand out in the bustling office, it was simply overlooked and mocked. West was rejected yet again, but he and his team walked out undeterred with their heads held high.

Perhaps the most sentimental facet of the film is the lens in which West and his mother Donda are captured. West’s kind mother nurtured his creativity and passion in his early years, which then developed the utmost respect and love West holds for his mother as depicted in the film. She is shown instilling ambition, kindness, and spirituality in West’s character. However, the film hones in on how West had been perceived as quite the opposite light in contemporary times. After his mother’s tragic demise, Kanye fell into a dark state of great grief, which could have played a part in the formation of his disreputable image that formed soon after.

While West’s controversial appearances stand to define the essence of his character, he is more complex than that which meets the eye. Beyond every tough, closed-off man is a hurt, struggling soul in need of support and love. So when you look at West and jump to the immediate, superficial conclusion that he is merely an arrogant man, remember this truth. Keep an open mind and give the documentary a try despite any skepticism. We can all learn something from West’s story.