The 5 biggest moments from Kanye West's new Netflix documentary 'Jeen-Yuhs' part one

The 5 biggest moments from Kanye West's new Netflix documentary 'Jeen-Yuhs' part one
  • The first episode of "Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye trilogy" is now available to stream on Netflix.

  • The documentary follows the rapper over two decades.

  • Below, Insider breaks down some of the best moments from episode one of the three-part documentary.

Ye duets with his mother Donda West.

An image of Donda West and Ye in "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy."
Donda West and Ye in "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy."Netflix.

The most affecting moments in "Jeen-Yuhs" are between Ye and his mother Donda West who died in 2007 from heart failure following complications from cosmetic surgery. At the tail end of the first episode, Ye returns to his mother's home in Chicago. The pair discuss Ye's childhood and his current success as a music producer when Donda West recalls a set of early lyrics from a song by Ye that she says is her favorite.

"I walk through the halls of the school, and it's cool to be known for my rapping ability, but what about the brothers who ain't got it like me," Donda West raps, and Ye quickly joins her.

The pair continue to perform the entire verse — which, according to, is from an unreleased song written by Ye as a teenager.

Ye "bum-rushed" the office of Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records in 2002 and performed his single "All Falls Down."

A picture of Ye in "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy."
Ye in "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy."Netflix.

The first episode of "Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye trilogy" opens in 2020 in the Dominican Republic and Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) is in the middle of a recording session for his latest album "Donda." As Ye freestyles furiously over a beat, attempting to conjure up a verse, the documentary jumps back in time to 1998, the start of the rapper's career and the making of his first album "The College Dropout."

At the time, Ye — who was only known for his work as a music producer — had been struggling to get members of the music industry to take him seriously as a rapper.

At one point during the first episode, Ye and his associates enter the offices of Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records in a move that was described as "bum-rushing" by Clarence "Coodie" Simmons — the film's director and narrator — and Ye travels throughout the office building playing an early version of his 2004 single "All Falls Down" for staff.

Ye also performs the song live for the staff in the building.

Ye almost signed with Rawkus Records instead of Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records.

A picture of Kanye West and Mos Def in 2005.
Ye and Mos Def in 2005.Johnny Nunez/WireImage

In the late 1990s, an underground record label called Rawkus Records that was partially funded by the Murdoch family became the home of hip-hop's "conscious rappers" — that is, rap artists who discuss sociopolitical themes in their music — after it snapped up artists such as Mos Def and Talib Kweli to record contracts.

In "Jeen-Yuhs," we see a representative for Rawkus Records attempting to court Ye to sign a recording contract with Rawkus Records instead of Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records. At the time, Ye had a close working relationship with Mos Def and Talib Kweli, both of whom appeared on his debut album.

Despite producing several songs on Jay-Z's blockbuster 2001 album "The Blueprint," Ye had still been struggling to convince Roc-A-Fella Records to take a chance on him. The senior management team at Rawkus Records eventually decides not to sign Ye, and he continues his quest to find representation.

Ye wanted the rapper Scarface to feature on the chorus of "Jesus Walks."

A picture of the rapper Scarface in 2015.
The rapper Scarface in 2015.Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET Networks

After failing to secure a recording contract with Rawkus Records, Ye restarts work on his debut album, and in an attempt to raise buzz around the album, he tries to enlist the rapper Scarface who, at the time, was one of the most popular rap artists in the world, to feature on the record.

The documentary shows the pair — who previously collaborated on Jay-Z's 2000 "This Can't Be Life" and the singles "Guess Who's Back" and "Heaven" from Scarface's 2002 project "The Fix" — in the studio. Ye plays Scarface an early version of "Jesus Walks," and asks him whether he will feature on the song's chorus.

Scarface asks Kanye to share another song and he plays "Family Business." Ye freestyle raps the song's first verse, which Scarface describes as "incredible."

Scarface leaves the studio to work on his verses but never makes it back to officially record the songs. Both singles eventually appeared on Ye's debut album "The College Dropout" without features.

Beyoncé appears backstage at a 2002 Jay-Z concert.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z on TRL
Jay-Z and Beyoncé on MTV's "TRL"on November 21, 2002KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images

In late 2002, Dame Dash — the co-founder and CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records — finally decides to offer Ye a recording contract, which he accepts. That same week, Jay-Z lands in Chicago for a show on his latest tour and he invites Ye on-stage to announce his news.

The documentary follows Ye backstage at the show where we see all the pageantry of a rap show in the early 2000s: There are large collections of groupies congregated around the arena, other artists pop-up, including Pharrell Williams, who we see Ye meet for the first time, and in a quiet corner amongst all the bustle, the camera spots a young Beyoncé backstage.

The camera lingers on the young singer, and she smiles before attempting to remain covert. At the time, Beyoncé and Jay-Z had collaborated on the single "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" from Jay-Z's seventh studio album "The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse."

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