The new documentary Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy is four-and-a-half-hours worth of revelatory footage of Kanye West — and directors Coodie and Chike cut it down from 330 hours, dating back to the early 2000s.
Their first cut, they reveal on the new episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, was nine hours long. “If it’s not moving the story forward, you have to let [it go],” says Coodie, who was a comedian and host of the Chicago hip-hop TV show Channel Zero before dropping everything to follow West to New York.
He ended up making the “Through the Wire” video, and beginning a career as a filmmaker that’s now culminated with Jeen-Yuhs, which hits Netflix Feb. 16. “I know I’ve been filming for 21 years,” Coodie says, “but I’m actually a Kanye fan.” At the same time, Chike says, “We didn’t come to make a commercial for Kanye,” and the filmmakers explain why West had no chance of getting final cut, despite his last-minute demands (which have now extended to a request to have Drake replace Coodie’s narration, despite the film being finished.)
The episode digs deep into the making of Jeen-Yuhs, and also features Rolling Stone‘s David Fear putting the documentary in historical context with host Brian Hiatt. To hear the whole episode, press play above, or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. They also discuss some of the documentary’s most memorable — and occasionally disturbing — scenes, whether it’s West blowing away Mos Def with his talent, freaking out Justin Bieber, telling Rick Rubin why the word “excited” is offensive, or crowing over televised words of praise from Tucker Carlson.
Early on, Coodie’s faith in Ye was so complete that he turned down a chance to switch over to filming Method Man — an already-established star at the time — while West was struggling to get his record label, Def Jam, to even release his debut. “There’s moments through Coodie’s footage when he’s with Meth a lot,” says Chike, “and you see this kind of affinity between Coodie and Meth and it’s like any given moment, Coodie could really start filming Method Man, and it could have been 21 years of Method Man. It just goes to show you the belief he still had in Kanye.”
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