TV & Movies

Netflix’s Kanye West Documentary Follows 20 Years Of The Rapper’s Turbulent Career

He comments on everything from Taylor Swift to his views on abortion.

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Netflix’s jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, released Feb. 16, tells the story of Kanye West’s journey to becoming an iconic rapper and controversial cultural figure through the eyes of his longtime friends and collaborators, director duo Coodie & Chike, who first met the musician in 2002.

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They grew close while filming West’s 2003 debut music video “Through the Wire” and began capturing footage for a documentary about the rapper. Covering nearly 20 years of West’s life, career, family, and controversies, here are the key takeaways from jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.

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West came up producing for Jay-Z and Ludacris, who swiftly recognized his vocal talents but had to fight for the Roc-a-Fella record label to take him seriously as a rapper. “Everybody already know about his production,” said Ludacris. “They about to find out about his skills.”

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West kept his confidence despite pushback, thanks in part to support from his late mother, Donda. “You snapped,” she said after an early performance. “Everybody thought [it'd] be weak when you said, ‘I want to be the best-dressed rapper,’ and then you came on with another type of rap.”

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2004’s The College Dropout was a success and earned two Grammys, affirming West’s self-pride. “Even if I lost, just give me a chance to speak,” he said before the awards. “If I [can’t say my speech] at the press room, I’ma have to say it in every interview completely through.”

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Coodie and West then grew apart. jeen-yuhs shows the rapper’s personality shifting after Donda’s 2007 passing, as controversies followed: cutting Taylor Swift off at the VMAs, announcing a political career, supporting Donald Trump. West was also hospitalized for mental health reasons around this time.

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Once they reconnected in 2018, West had married Kim Kardashian and launched a fashion empire. A year later, he called slavery “a choice,” became a spiritually reborn Christian, and started Sunday Service. “My job is to spread the gospel... I’m no longer a slave. I’m free.”

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While simultaneously working on Jesus is King, Donda, and his ill-fated presidential campaign in 2020, West’s filmed comments became unpredictable. “I don't communicate in a way people understand in public,” he said. “It’s truth, and we’re in a world of lies.”

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“There’s an execution style performed on me over the past six, seven years post-Taylor Swift, where they tie both arms, both legs to four horses — all in different directions,” he alleged in one conversation. “They didn’t know they was dealing with Deadpool... Those limbs grew back.”

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At that point, Coodie was concerned, “didn’t feel right” documenting this side of West’s personality, and stopped filming. But they reconnected once again at the rapper’s Wyoming estate following his 2020 presidential speech about nearly aborting his daughter, North West.

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“If somebody said, ‘I just got an abortion’ on TV, y’all would [say], ‘That’s cool,’” he said in the studio with Justin Bieber. “If I said my dad almost aborted [me], and [I] almost aborted North West, and then I’m crying about it, you look at me like I’m motherf**king crazy.”

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West’s father called him after the speech, worried. “When you say things like ‘no abortion’... That’s a very strong Christian statement,” the rapper said in defense. “Christians are scrutinized and killed for our beliefs and following the word of God, and I stand up.”

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West is then seen praising Ben Shapiro’s Fox News coverage of his campaign speech despite Coodie’s discouragement. “You might say you miss the old Kanye,” the filmmaker narrated following the scene. “But I’m realizing now that every part of Kanye makes him who he is.”