"It captures West at a vulnerable moment in his nascent career, when the future was anything but guaranteed. And it is also a kind of marker of success on its own," Jon Caramanica says of the three-part docuseries directed by Chike Ozah and Clarence “Coodie” Simmons. "The camera’s presence forces the people West encounters to treat him just a tad more seriously, or at least to wonder if they should. In almost every encounter captured, there is a slight hiccup at the beginning, in which the other person wonders, what exactly are we doing here? West, one of the defining figures of the last 20 years, has been a consistent innovator in music and style. But he has also long had a preternatural grasp of the mechanisms of celebrity, how success is only truly impactful if it is imprinted onto others. West believed in himself, but wouldn’t stop until he’d convinced those around him, too. Jeen-yuhs is something like the demo tape of that phenomenon. It is both fascinating and obvious, eerie in the way that it foretells who West eventually would become by showing who he always has been."
What surprised Simmons and Chike while they were making the documentary?: “I would say, the footage that I found of his mother giving him some advice about, you know, ‘The giant looks in the mirror and sees nothing you can. You can stay on the ground and be in the air at the same time,’” Simmons tells The Root. “That was shocking when I saw it because I did her funeral presentation and I don’t remember seeing it. And this was a week before he went to the Oval Office. I felt like that message was for Kanye to see (at that moment). So I was shocked....Was she saying it then or was she saying it now? That’s how powerful that was.”