Filmmakers Coodie & Chike believe that Jesus Christ has always guided rapper Kanye West despite his sometimes erratic and questionable behavior. They hope their new Netflix documentary "Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye West Trilogy" will inspire others to tap into what God is leading them to do.
"Jeen-Yuhs" began streaming on Netflix Monday, with its first installment of three acts titled "Vision," "Purpose" and "Awakening," respectively. The documentary, which has vulgar language, features footage captured by Clarence "Coodie" Simmons over the span of 20 years.
The series documents Kanye's formative days in Chicago and features his rise to becoming a global entertainer. In recent years, the artist has shared extensively about his conversion to Jesus Christ and even hosted several events called "Sunday Services" nationwidein 2019 at places like Coachella, Los Angeles' Skid Row and even Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston.
"The whole journey, we both understood that Jesus was with us," Coodie told The Christian Post. "[Kanye] had the song, 'Jesus Walks,' and for me, I always believed in Christ, and had a personal relationship with Christ as a kid."
Coodie was raised in Chicago by a single mom along with his three sisters. He embraced Christianity after becoming convinced Jesus is the Son of God.
"So I'm like, 'OK, I pray to God, and I kick it and hang with Jesus,'" Coodie shared. "Then through my whole life in the streets of Chicago, with the gang situation and all, He saved me through so much."
"I knew it was Jesus," he added.
"Every time I had a gun to my head and it didn't go off, I know it was Jesus. ... [Jesus] gave me the money when I got carjacked to even move to go document, Kanye. All this is Christ moving us."
The award-winning director drew the correlation between Kanye's song "Jesus Walks" and his own faith.
Coodie shared how, on one occasion, Kanye and his team were shooting a music video in Inglewood, a place in California known as "the hood." While shooting, filmmakers did not realize there were crosses from a church highlighted in the background.
"I'm like, 'Look at God, look how He just art directed this video," Coodie said.
The documentary does not shy away from showing Kanye's egotistical side, featuring clips of some of his lowest moments. In recent years, the artist has opened up about his struggles with mental health. Kanye revealed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder on his 2018 album Ye.
Coodie mentioned the times Kanye discussed walking away from his faith. Coodie praised the fact that "Jesus would never leave us. He always will be with us, no matter what you say."
For those in the faith community that might be apprehensive about watching a documentary about Kanye, Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka, known by his stage name "Chike," says the documentary is bigger than the polarizing artist.
The co-director doesn't believe Kanye's questionable behavior concerning his dating life and public divorce from Kim Kardashian should deter Christians from being inspired by how God has moved throughout the artist's life.
"This film isn't about Kanye," he stressed. "It's about utilizing the journey that Kanye and Coodie embarked on as a testament to the power of God, to moving and walking in your faith, to the elimination of fear and the confidence you can have in yourself and how to achieve your goals, to get through all these adversities that are going to be put in front of you once you are working, walking in your purpose."
"That's what this film was about," he added. "Kanye, he's an icon, so it's a huge carrot to dangle that can bring everybody in. But once you come in, it's like, this is the story. This is a blueprint now for people to watch that are having any trouble in their life, in moving and walking in their purpose, or in their passion in unlocking their inner genius."
Chike stressed that the documentary does not idolize Kanye or Coodie. Instead, he hopes it inspires everyone to discover their inner genius.
"We're saying everybody has a genius, but in order to get to that, in some, it lays more dormant, in some, it's right in the forefront," he maintained. "It's easy; some of us, we've got to just dig deeper, but once we find it, we have to allow ourselves to move on faith. Fear, it cripples so many people. We don't even take that first step because of fear."
Coodie added: "We all going to make mistakes. We all want to do things that are not right. We do live in this world, but we're not of the world, so that alone lets you know that Kanye's going to be all right. No matter what he's going through, God will never forsake him."
Part 1 of "Jeen-Yuhs" is now streaming on Netflix. The following episodes arrive on Feb. 23 and March 2.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic