jeen-yuhs on Netflix: Trailer, release date and what to expect from the upcoming Kanye West documentary

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  • Kanye West
    Kanye West
    American rapper
 (Netflix)
(Netflix)

After first whispers started emerging from Netflix HQ last summer about the prospect of a major Kanye West documentary, it’s finally been confirmed: jeen-yuhs is imminent.

Like anything even remotely related to the rapper-producer-fashion designer, now legally known simply as Ye, the film is being feverishly anticipated. And judging by the $30m Netflix reportedly spent to acquire its rights, the streaming giant has high hopes for it too.

In typical Ye style, a lot of details about the project are being closely guarded for now — but here’s what we know so far.

When is jeen-yuhs released?

The documentary is being released as a trilogy, with the first installment set to land on Netflix on February 16. The streaming platform is describing the launch as the beginning of a “three-week global event”, so expect the other two parts to arrive at some point later in the month and into March.

What is the documentary about?

Judging by the name — a phonetic spelling of the word “genius”, in case you hadn’t figured it out — the documentary will dig into the indisputably seismic impact Ye’s career has had on the cultural world, from his rise as a seminal rapper and producer, to his work as a fashion disrupter with his Yeezy brand.

The footage, much of it archival and previously unseen, has been shot across 21 years, covering Ye’s life through the first two decades of the 21st century — from his early career in New York, to the death of his mother Donda, to his unexpected and ultimately futile presidential campaign in 2020.

Who made the documentary?

It’s the work of director duo Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah (collectively known as Coodie and Chike), who first worked with Ye on the video for his debut single, Through the Wire, in 2003. The pair also took the reins on a number of Ye’s later videos, and have since worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Pitbull and Christina Aguilera.

Coodie first met Ye in 2002, and started filming in the hope of eventually making a documentary about the artist — an ambition that has finally been realised with jeen-yuhs.

Is there a trailer for jeen-yuhs?

Yes, and you can watch it above. Featuring cameos from long-time collaborator Rhymefest, to Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams, it gives the flavour of a film that looks set to be both star-studded and intimate.

Seven pivotal moments we hope to see in jeen-yuhs

Big break on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint

Widely regarded as one of 21st century hip-hop’s finest moments, Jay-Z’s 2001 album The Blueprint was the album that marked West out as a visionary producer. His beat-crafting work on four of the record’s tracks ushered in a new era of rap music in the US, reigniting a love for sampling, and moving things away from the funkadelic obsession of the Nineties and towards the soul of years gone by.

Announcing himself with The College Dropout

After The Blueprint, West’s gift for production was in no doubt. As a standalone artist, though? The doubters were many, but they were silenced in 2004 when West dropped his debut album, The College Dropout. Not only were the beats spectacularly good; now we could see just how skilled he was as a lyricist, tackling issues both societal and personal, with humour and profundity, often from bar to bar.

The death of Donda

When West’s mother, Donda, passed away in 2007, it had an all-encompassing effect. His art changed — a new obsession with Auto-Tune was seemingly a way to process unspeakable emotions — and his mother’s legacy has remained a constant, lending her name to a creative content company founded by West in 2012 and, most recently, his 10th studio album.

Delivering his masterpiece

Debate over which of Ye’s albums is the best continues, but a broad survey would surely only result in one answer: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Released in 2010, after a period of self-imposed exile in Hawaii following that Taylor Swift moment at the VMAs, it was the perfect crystallisation of everything great about West’s art: exhilarating, unnerving, fearless and fantastic.

Moving both feet forward with Yeezy

West’s infatuation with fashion — and, specifically, shoes — has been there for a while. He first released a sneaker as part of a collaboration with Bape in 2007, but it’s his Yeezy brand, which saw him work first with Nike and then with Adidas, that changed the game. With full creative control, West released the first Adidas Yeezy in 2015, and has since turned the futuristic-looking, eye-wateringly expensive sneakers into a multi-billion dollar behemoth.

The rise and fall of Kimye

From their first public outing as a couple in 2012 to ending up with irreconcilable differences last year, the Kimye rollercoaster was a wild one. Celebrity couples don’t come much more tabloid-titillating than Kanye and Kim Kardashian, and their relationship was played out in the public sphere, going from soaring highs (that opulent Florence wedding) to worrying lows (in July 2020, Kardashian released a statement asking for compassion as West struggled with his mental health).

President Kanye?

Ye has never been one to dampen his ambitions, but his 2020 bid for a place in the White House was a step too far even for him. In the age of Trump, the idea of Ye becoming the leader of the free world didn’t seem as much of an impossibility as it once might have, but ultimately, his campaign was nothing more than a sideshow, finishing with just over 66,000 votes to Joe Biden’s 81 million. As a statement of intent, though, it was quite something.

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