As Kanye West tries to work out his marital issues in the public eye, Netflix offers a more pleasant view of the mercurial star as a young, hungry artist in the first episode of the three-part documentary series, Jeen-Yuhs. Shot by longtime Kanye collaborators Coodie + Chike and following the earliest part of his career when he was just a producer on Roc-A-Fella’s payroll being strung along by Dame Dash, Jeen-Yuhs gives a rare glimpse at who Kanye was before the fame, looking up to “big brother” Jay-Z and looking forward to signing his first major-label recording contract.
Before that, though, the documentary gives much-needed background into Kanye’s upbringing, including his close relationship with his mother Donda West, and the underground Chicago hip-hop scene that incubated the rapper’s nascent talents. It follows his invasion of the Roc-A-Fella offices in New York to play his music for anyone and everyone who’ll listen in the hopes of getting Dash’s attention. And it catches Kanye showing off a hilariously accurate impression of Jay-Z before the two rappers ever joined forces to make rap fans Watch The Throne.
Mostly, though, the first episode sets the stage for Kanye’s precipitous rise, reminding us that even the biggest stars often have to start from humble beginnings.
Episode one of Jeen-Yuhs is now streaming on Netflix.