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After Kanye West Demands Final Approval On Netflix’s Jeen-Yuhs Docuseries, A Co-Director Reveals Why His Request Wasn’t Granted

screenshot of Kanye West
(Image credit: BigBoyTV)

Kanye West wouldn’t exactly be Kanye West without his signature bold statements. Whether he’s proclaiming a Beyoncé album the “greatest of all time” or running for president or trying to get his ex-wife Kim Kardashian back, the rapper has definitive (and no shortage of controversial) opinions. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out to his liking. This was the case when he demanded and was denied final approval on the Netflix docuseries, Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, which centers on his comeuppance in the music industry. Now, one of the co-directors involved with the project reveals exactly why the request wasn’t granted.

The Grammy winner put Netflix on blast only a few days before the documentary’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, saying that he wasn’t given access to the editing room and, by extension, the right to be “in charge” of his own image. Jeen-Yuhs has since premiered on the streaming platform, and it showcases an intimate portrayal of West’s early struggles to break into the New York scene, starting in the late '90s and moving all the way up to present day. 

Co-directors Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah gathered roughly 330 hours of footage from that span of time. And they take issue with Kanye West’s claims that he wasn’t an active participant in the creative process, as well as how he views the creative process of a documentary in general. Ozah said to Insider:

The film doesn't lie on that, so you definitely have his participation ... on camera. But, for us, as filmmakers, the name of our company is Creative Control, so, there are just certain rules in documentary filmmaking for it to be authentic. And for it to resonate, people need to see certain things. So sometimes it's just not best for the filmmaking for the subject, who the film is largely about, to have control over the direction the story goes in.

In other words, the issue isn’t exactly one of control but one of objectivity. Documentary subject matters, of course, would rather have final say of what gets presented about them – but then the angle would be skewed in their favor and, therefore, could be potentially untrustworthy. The situation with Jeen-Yuhs is sort of ironic in that Kanye West has complained for some time now that the Kardashians (his in-laws) seek to control the narrative about him in the press. Obviously, he’s been attempting to flip the script on both the reality family’s supposed narrative of events and Netflix, even making a number of major accusations against the former.

So far as we’ve seen, the docuseries presents an early version of Ye's self-assurance of his talents, as well as the co-directors’ beliefs in those talents. Both Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah have long since been frequent collaborators/directors of several of the star's music videos, to include the iconic “Jesus Walks.” Creative control dynamics aside, Ozah added that he hopes audiences perceive the larger story they’re trying to tell about the rapper. He said:

But, that being said, obviously, the input of Kanye's team has always been welcome and we're out to make the best documentary possible. This documentary, like we said, is a period in creating Kanye's larger message. That's the message that we're protecting. That's the message that we want the people to feel.

However, if it isn’t clear by now, Kanye West isn’t exactly concerned with the public’s perception on any of his personal affairs. Beyond beefing with Netflix, he’s recently declared “civil war” on everyone from Pete Davidson to Billie Eilish. He’s being unfollowed left and right by his extended family. The drama has also evidently cost him a sponsorship with Apple, which he responded to on an Instagram post, commenting only “Duh.”

All of which is to say that Jeen-Yuhs is in no short supply of publicity – good or bad. The first part has already dropped on Netflix, with the remaining two parts slated to be released weekly. If you’re not watching it like how Kanye West probably isn’t, then check out the other titles streaming on Netflix’s roster.

Lauren Vanderveen
Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.