Ye a.k.a. Kanye West, already one of the most influential and polarizing pop figures of his generation, is demanding control over an upcoming Netflix documentary poised to stir even more debate about his legacy.
“I’m going to say this kindly for the last time,” the Grammy-winning rapper wrote on Instagram on Friday, two days before the first peek at “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” is scheduled to be unveiled at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. “I must get final edit and approval on this doc before it releases on Netflix.”
Billed as a “landmark documentary event” by the streamer, the four-and-a-half-hour film officially hits Netflix globally in three feature-length installments (titled “Act I: Vision,” “Act II: Purpose” and “Act III: Awakening”) starting Feb. 16.
“Open the edit room immediately so I can be in charge of my own image,” wrote West.
Work-in-progress screeners of all three parts have been made available to press with the first set to premiere online to Sundance ticket holders on Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. Pacific. Netflix has not responded to a request for comment.
Directed by early West collaborators Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, “jeen-yuhs” amasses intimate and behind-the-scenes footage of West, whom Simmons spent decades filming as he went from in-demand producer fighting to be taken seriously as a rapper to global icon and enfant terrible.
Spanning more than 20 years of West’s life and career, the documentary contains early footage of the rapper at home with his late mother, Donda West. It also contains footage of in-studio moments with Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, Justin Bieber and more.
“Act I: Vision” tracks the Chicago rapper’s pre-fame years chasing a record deal with Roc-A-Fella Records. It also chronicles the making of his debut album, “The College Dropout,” an auspicious work interrupted by the 2002 car crash that would inspire his Grammy-nominated hit “Through the Wire.”
Subsequent installments chart West’s rise to fame and many controversies, including his alliance with Donald Trump’s MAGA campaign. Simmons offers narrated perspective on his complicated friendship with West.
Speaking with Variety ahead of Sundance, Simmons addressed West’s lack of creative control on the project. “I said, ‘Dude, you have to trust me.’ And he did, 100%,” he said. “Mind you, when his team and the business-people have gotten involved, they’re of course going to have their say.”
In an interview with Indiewire, Simmons said that West may not have seen the film yet, but his team has. “His team has seen it and I believe they showed him something. But I’m not certain. I haven’t had a conversation with Kanye about it.”
A filmmaker Q&A is scheduled to follow the Sundance premiere of “Jeen-Yuhs” on Sunday. An additional virtual conversation on the making of the film featuring directors Coodie & Chike, writer J. Ivy and Time Studios president and COO Ian Orefice will take place Jan. 24 at 11 a.m. Mountain Time.