DUBAI: With Kanye West’s tabloid-friendly antics continuously trending worldwide, it’s easy to forget that the artist and fashion mogul was once a struggling rapper, who had to fight for the acceptance of both his peers and the public. “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” — a three-part documentary now streaming on Netflix — is here to remind us.
Not that we should forget the man West has become, of course.
“This movie wouldn’t be so anticipated if it weren’t for Kanye doing the things that Kanye does. You know what I mean?” the film’s co-director, Coodie Simmons, says.
Simmons followed West with a camera for 17 years off and on, capturing many jaw-dropping moments that were already part of hip-hop mythology, and some that have instantly been added since its release. The sprawling film is a goldmine, containing intimate exchanges with Kanye’s late mother Donda West, his first and biggest fan, as well as formative moments with Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, and much more.
As West grew from a humble (well, never exactly ‘humble’) Chicago producer to one of the world’s biggest celebrities, he and Simmons parted ways, only reuniting in 2014. For Simmons, the most striking thing was how little West, the man he had observed so closely, had truly changed.
“I thought after all those years I wouldn’t know him. I’d been watching him only as the celebrity, as ‘Yeezy.’ But when we were together, I forgot he was a huge megastar, to the point where, when we went outside and there were 100 people with cameras, I thought, ‘Oh, right, this is Yeezy!’ But once the paparazzi weren’t around, he was the same person that he was on 95th Street on Chicago’s Southside with cornrows,” Simmons tells Arab News.
Now that the film is out, the immediate success of the documentary has reenforced the bond between Simmons and West. West, who has been busy preparing the release of his latest album “Donda 2,” named for his late mother, has yet to watch it, but Simmons has given him specific instructions on how he should once the time is right.
“I told him, when you watch it, you have to watch it with everyone who loves you genuinely. We’ve all got to be together so we can laugh, hug, and cry. He’s going to see his life. This is truly his life. And it’s so, so powerful,” says Simmons.