Act I is easily the best segment of Jeen-Yuhs. It’s hard not to be enlightened witnessing the hip-hop scene during the time opposing diversification, leading to Kanye’s accumulating struggle to accomplish his dreams but also provoking his accumulating motivation to change their minds; that boiling of stress and emotion is strung together so well during this preliminary third. Act II though is sort of just self-satisfying as a massive fan of The College Dropout (2004), witnessing the album being assembled under the resourceful guidance of studio hopping and promo missioning; the BTS of creating the LP’s track-list alone is enough to entertain fans like me, but will probably leave people unfamiliar with Kanye’s debut less engaged than Act I and especially considering that “proving others wrong” and “rise to fame” story is essentially recycled here again. Act III, however, is where a time span is really ruminated in a flash. Covering fifteen choppy years of content between Coodie and Kanye’s relationship, the first half is dedicated to viewing the icon’s career and mental fluctuation only from a distance, and there is undoubtedly a value to feeling that frustration of being limited by strictly media knowledge. Although this act did test my patience more than the first two, mainly because of its over-reliance and over-compiling of manipulated news footage throughout, I do appreciate that it doesn’t just feel like b-sides to Act I as did Act II, and actually progresses the arc of Kanye further.
It is pretty mind-blowing to think that this documentary has been twenty years in the making; it paid off enough as a moderate follower of one of the 21st century’s most prominent celebrities. Nevertheless, there’s still questionable narrative structuring to it that could’ve been revised by using the revelatory footage wiser, especially if it’s heavily emanating from a documentary as polished as Hoop Dreams (1994), which Jeen-yuhs noticeably lacks. One thing is for sure though: cut most of Coodie’s narration from this and you would have yourselves a closer to solid than just serviceable documentary. Sorry man, but you don’t need to state the obvious while also reassuring us your biases during every moment!
If you have the time though, definitely watch Act I at least; that alone is a great film in of itself.
“Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” is now available to stream on Netflix.