jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Available 2/16)
There’s a revealing moment early into jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy where a young Kanye West explains why he’s so cocky, years before he has much to be cocky about. “Hip hop is always about fronting,” shrugs the budding Chicago superstar, then barely old enough to drink, as a big smile creeps across his baby face. Humility, it would seem, has never been one of West’s defining traits. Then again, as he explains, bravado is part of the image—a performance required of anyone looking to make it in the rap game. What was exciting about Kanye, when he first blew up in the early 2000s, was how he cooked that acknowledgement into the music, mixing his doubts with his braggadocio, suggesting they were intimately related. That wasn’t subtext. It was right there in “All Falls Down,” where West established himself as a new kind of hip-hop star, vulnerable and relatable and honest enough to admit his insecurities.
That’s the “old Kanye,” identified as so by the artist himself a few years ago, with a self-conscious wink of a half-song. We get a lot of the old Kanye, a.k.a. the very young Kanye, in jeen-yuhs. Technically, this trifurcated documentary, which premiered in part at Sundance this evening and drops in full on Netflix next month, spans the entire length of West’s career, from his early days as a fledgling hip-hop producer with dreams of grabbing the mic to his current life as a gospel-choir leader in a Make America Great Again hat, incensing fans by the tweet. But the project is undeniably lopsided in its focus, spending two of its three installments—equal in length at about 90 minutes apiece—on the rise-to-fame portion of the Kanye story. As it’ll become clear later, that’s partially a matter of what footage was available and when it was shot. [A.A. Dowd]
Read the rest of our review here