Netflix Releases Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy


Young Kanye West in the studio working with his mentor, No I.D.

“Every great story begins with a vision” – Coodie

Kanye West seems to have permanently been in the press recently – the controversial tweets, the divorce with media personality Kim Kardashian, and the blatant shade to other celebrities – but, unfortunately, his newly released documentary, Jeen-Yuhs, hasn’t. On February 16, Netflix released the three part documentary, Jeen-Yuhs, a film recounting the life and career of the artist, record producer, and fashion designer Kanye West, also known as Ye. Directed by Coodie and Chike,  Jeen-Yuhs compiles unseen footage into three episodes, “Vision,” “Purpose,” and “Awakening,” to cover West’s journey in music and fashion, the death of his mother, and his presidential campaign.

“Vision” was the first episode of the trilogy to be released. As a praised talent coming from Chicago, Kanye had caught the eye of many in the music industry, especially filmmaker and storyteller Coodie, who knew from their first interaction that something special brewed inside the 21-year-old producer. When Kanye moved to New York in the early 2000s to try to sign a record deal, Coodie tagged along, committed to documenting the life of the promising young artist. A few years later, co-director Chike joined the two in the creation of the film, predominantly working behind the scenes.

The first episode primarily focuses on West’s struggles to land a record deal in the already dominated hip-hop industry. Despite being a multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated producer in his twenties, he was not satisfied with being behind the scenes. In the episode, he said,  “I’m nowhere near my dream. I got aspirations. I got big dreams.” In fact, it’s clear that producing was never Kanye’s greatest interest. As Coodie says, “[Ye] only made beats so he could rap over them.” Eventually, on August 18, 2002, Roc-A-Fella Records, a label founded by Jay-Z in the 90s, signed Kanye. Overcoming rejection from multiple labels in New York, his story of success in “Vision” is unique and captivating; as Michael Matte ‘25 said, “I love Jeen-Yuhs. Kanye’s path to greatness has been a tough one… Nothing was ever handed to [him], yet he has become one of the most successful hip-hop artists we have ever seen.”

Coming from an underrepresented area in the industry, Kanye fought an uphill battle trying to become the next big name in hip-hop. It wasn’t his background or conformity to trends that made him famous; instead, his infectious confidence and unapologetic attitude pushed him to stardom. He knew what everybody wanted – authentic and personal music. Talking about his originality, Kanye said, “The music is me, it ain’t no representation of anything except how I live every day.” Such a genuine attitude has no doubt been unique and refreshing to many fans. As Yuv Banker ’25 said, “Most artists refuse to voice their opinions or do anything bold simply because of the fear of the backlash and the bad press that they may get. That isn’t Kanye.”

Jeen-Yuhs has been a thought-provoking introduction to the story behind one of the most popular artists of our time, offering insight into Kanye’s successful yet often controversial actions. In part two and three, the directors dive into the tragedies that affected Kanye’s career as he became a household name. To watch the trilogy, visit the Netflix website.