”jeen-yuhs” with Coodie Simmons & Chike Ozah

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Long before Kanye West became one of the most famous people on the planet, he was a 19-year-old up-and-coming producer of beats trying to make a name for himself in the local Chicago rap scene. Enter comedian Coodie Simmons, host of a local cable access show, who — taking inspiration from the landmark documentary “Hoop Dreams” — decided to turn his camera full-time on Kanye, sensing the young rapper had what it took to make it big. Now, 24 years and over 300 hours of footage later, Kanye is a household name and Coodie’s dreams for creating an epic documentary have also come true. Directed by Coodie and his longtime collaborator Chike Ozah, the new three-part Netflix docuseries, “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” is an unprecedented, longitudinal portrait of a huge global superstar that tracks, in real-time, Kanye West’s rise to — and struggles with — fame.

Joining Ken for a wide-ranging conversation about their remarkably intimate and beautifully crafted documentary, the captivating duo of Coodie & Chike (“Benji”, “A Kid from Coney Island”) take us on the long, winding journey that led from the streets of Chicago into the recording studios of New York City and LA, and, eventually, as Kanye became a global phenomenon, to such places as the Dominican Republic and China. What is it like to have Kanye’s mother embrace you as a member of her own family — and then to have to face the wrenching task of putting together a memorial video of her life when she dies suddenly just a few years later? How does one make the hard decision, after filming one’s “young brother” for decades, that, in certain uncomfortable situations, turning off the camera may be the right call? And, ever the comedian, why did Coodie think the comedic device of the “callback” would be the perfect way to make Kanye West’s retainer (yes, the budding rap star wore a retainer) one of the film’s most memorable recurring bits? As Coodie says in the documentary, “Everything happens for a reason.”

“jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” is currently streaming on Netflix.

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