A fellow South Sider turned a public-access TV show into a full-access Kanye West documentary, ‘Jeen-Yuhs’ – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — From Yeezy to Ye, Kanye West has enjoyed a rollercoaster of success and scrutiny over the past two decades. Filmmaker Coodie Simmons accompanied the trip when it all started in Chicago. He turned his public-access TV show into full-access to produce a critically acclaimed movie, “Jeen-yuhs,” which ran for 20 years.

In the late 90s, the universe connected Coodie Simmons and his camera to fellow South Sider Kanye West, long before he became a global hip hop superstar.

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“He actually produced the music, and he was on stage, and he was so charismatic. He had this moving crowd. I was like, ‘Yo, he’s gonna be the only one,’ and I just saw the Grammys in his future, and I said I’m gonna document to see if he wins those Grammys,” Simmons said.

In 2001, Simmons took a leap of faith and followed West from Chicago to New York.

“So many people said, ‘Why are you filming Kanye? What’s he got about him? I was like, ‘Man, you’ll see,'” he said.

Despite Jay-Z’s initial rejection as a rapper from Roc-A-Fella Records, the world would soon see West’s immense talent and become famous and wealthy. With over 20 years of his exclusive footage, Simmons tells their story in the Netflix documentary, “Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.”

“This project was definitely ordained by God,” Simmons said. “It was amazing. Certainly, to see the message we are trying to convey; everyone’s message is genius.

“It’s amazing to finally see it come to life and the world to watch it with us,” said Jeen-Yuh lead writer J. Ivy. “Big shout out to Coodie, because he had the vision to put that camera on him, and we’re all here because of that.”

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Some of the most intimate and moving scenes show West with his mother, Donda, who died in 2007.

“Donda West was a big part of Kanye’s success, and it shows when you watch the movie, how supportive she was. She believed in him so much that he couldn’t help but believe in himself,” Simmons said.

Simmons and West have had their differences over the years, but their connection was clear at the documentary’s recent Los Angeles premiere.

Simmons said it felt like a real reconciliation.

“With certainty. Every moment I spend with Kanye, when we’re in person with each other, it’s like peace and love,” he said. “No apologies for everything Kanye has done and said, but it just let you know that no one is perfect. Even if you want Kanye to be perfect and the superman he said he is, everyone world is not perfect.

Baker: “From channel zero, public access, on the move here in Chicago to now this international stage showcasing your creative genius, how rewarding is that?”

Simmons: “It’s been a long time, but it’s so much more than what we plan to do.”

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And we have a special CBS 2 connection with Simmons. His sister, Wendy Simmons, is one of our morning show editors. Wendy was at the “Jeen-Yuhs” documentary premiere, sitting right next to Kanye West himself. She is so proud of her big brother, who is always Clarence to her.

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