Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) appeared at a screening of the first episode of Netflix’s three-part documentary Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy on Friday (Feb. 11) in Los Angeles to celebrate the doc’s release on the streaming service.
Part 1 of the Coodie and Chike-directed doc features previously-unseen footage of young Ye on the road to stardom and all of the hustle that went into getting his first album, The College Dropout, noticed by Roc-a-Fella Records. An inspiring, raw portrait of the “old Kanye,” Jeen-Yuhs showcases early moments in the rapper’s career with celebrities like Mos Def, Jay-Z, Kobe Bryant, Beyonce and others. It also features touching moments between the artist and his beloved late mother, Donda West.
After the screening, held at a venue above L.A.’s Mother Wolf, the crew gathered to say a few words about the documentary. The mic was passed eventually to Ye, who started off his impromptu speech by saying he was pleasantly surprised by how many times he referenced trusting God in the old tapes.
In an apparent reference to cancel culture, the 44-year-rapper and fashion mogul, who arrived late to the event and sat next to DaBaby, added, “How we gonna let each other go when someone brings up one mistake that you did?”
Ye went on to admit that the event had been pushed back from its original screening time so that he could take his 8-year-old daughter, North, to her basketball game. She plays at “what used to be the Mamba Arena, and my daughter’s 8,” the rapper noted, drawing the connection to Bryant’s famous jersey number.
“When Kobe died, there’s people that brought up his mistake,” Ye continued, possibly alluding to Bryant’s sexual assault case from 2003 (the case was dropped just before its trial date because of the accuser’s unwillingness to testify).
“I always thought that was a setup. I thought that was something to diminish this man because he never learned how to be a slave. This man spoke Italian, this man played ball, this man spoke multiple languages… When y’all see me, doing things y’all wouldn’t expect us to do and y’all want me to step back and be a house n—a that’s not my position.”
Ye also discussed racial inequity during his speech. “We’re on labels we don’t own, play for basketball teams we don’t own, the time is now,” he said.
Ye then claimed he was “offered $100M by Larry Jackson to put Donda on Apple,” but he was never offered a “meeting with Tim Cook,” the tech giant’s CEO. “It’s not about the money though, it’s about our power and our respect collectively,” Ye said to a few supportive cheers from the crowd. “So I be saying stuff that people trying to remind me, in Black History Month, that people could get killed for, but this is Black Future Month.” The crowd erupted in applause.
Ye came back on the mic to thank his director Coodie, who has been shooting Ye at work since the late ’90s. “For Coodie… to keep that camera up when he saw all these famous people playing me. It was his belief in me — to be able to show y’all these tapes.”
Looking back on his own career, Ye said that he “would’ve been embarrassed by if y’all had seen these tapes right after they happened, but they all make sense now.”
Ye’s guests then went downstairs to the Mother Wolf restaurant for a star-studded after-party, which included Quavo, DaBaby, Rich the Kid, Karrueche Tran, Chanel Iman, and others.
Part one of Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy will be available for streaming on Netflix Feb. 16.