Home Christian News New Netflix Docuseries ‘jeen-yuhs’ Chronicles Kanye West’s Belief in God and Himself

New Netflix Docuseries ‘jeen-yuhs’ Chronicles Kanye West’s Belief in God and Himself

Kanye West
Kanye “Ye” West in “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.” Screen grab courtesy of Netflix Media Center

CHICAGO (RNS) — Clarence “Coodie” Simmons is a believer. Simmons believed a young music producer and aspiring rapper named Kanye West was going to be a star. The filmmaker believed God was directing his life when he upended it to follow West, now Ye, from Chicago to New York City to film the musician’s rise.

Simmons still believes, even as things have gotten messier and more complicated since West reached the top.

“I always believed his purpose would take him to these heights. Motivated by faith, we climbed together,” Simmons says in the resulting three-part docuseries, “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye West Trilogy,” he directed with Chike Ozah.

The documentary, as much about Simmons’ faith in West as West’s faith in God, debuted Wednesday (Feb. 16) on Netflix with its first episode. Two more will follow weekly.

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At its heart, “jeen-yuhs” tells a story of belief, from West’s — and Simmons’ — belief that the rapper was destined for greatness to West’s belief in Jesus, including his celebrated conversion.

“Belief is the power that fuels your purpose,” Simmons insists in the series.

The docuseries is also a reminder West’s complicated relationship with Christianity reaches back further than his 2019 album “Jesus Is King” and his recent elaborate Sunday Service events.

West’s albums have always been peppered with religious references.

Long before he started claiming top spots on Christian music charts with “Jesus Is King,” he was rapping about Jesus. There was “Jesus Walks,” a track on his 2004 debut “The College Dropout” with lyrics such as “God show me the way because the devil’s tryna break me down.” In “jeen-yuhs,” Simmons describes the song as a “cultural phenomenon.”

There was gospel artist Kirk Franklin’s guest appearance on “Ultralight Beam,” which opened West’s critically acclaimed 2016 album “The Life of Pablo.”

West also controversially posed as Jesus on a 2006 cover of Rolling Stone splashed with the headline “The Passion of Kanye West” — many at the time decried it as blasphemous. He later embraced the nickname “Yeezus,” making it the title of his 2013 album, which featured the song “I Am a God.”

More recently, during an appearance at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, West told of growing up with the Rev. Johnnie Colemon’s Christ Universal Temple on the South Side of Chicago, which has been linked with the prosperity gospel and New Thought movements.

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A belief in positive thinking and manifesting thoughts into reality is evident in “jeen-yuhs.”

“I’m not going to say there’s not a way that I can fail,” a young West says in the first episode.

“Hopefully, with God’s blessings and I got Chicago on my side, there should be no way for me to lose, really.”