Photo: Youtube User Netflix
I think it goes without saying that Kanye West loves his hometown of Chicago, Illinois but I definitely understood from watching part 1 of this documentary just how much it meant for him - even from the very beginning, to represent, shout out and show love to the Chi' at any and every opportunity which he's done, and then some! Kanye West owes Chicago nothing!
I love when we get to see icons in this light because of course, we've heard the stories of how it was back when he was starting out but now we actually get to see all he went through while he was going through it. It's inevitable that we gain a whole new level of respect for the man. As polarising of a figure as he is, no one can take away his accolades, his contributions to fashion, music and popular culture and most importantly, his brilliant mind and many, many talents.
Here are 5 things that personally intrigued me while watching part 1:
1. How much his mother instilled confidence in him.
We've heard and read how close he was to his mother but to see it from this perspective is beautiful. She had so much faith and confidence that he would be great and continuously nurtured him into fulfilling greatness... and then some. It was emotional at times because we finally understand how and why her passing had and certainly still effects him so negatively. I can imagine losing a parent, particularly in that way, would be traumatising and devastating for anyone but because of the bond they had - it's probably something he will never be ok with. It was great to see that he clearly has a lot of fond memories to hold on to.
Ms Donda definitely was a character in her own right. I really admire her patience and wisdom, especially her ability to lift his spirit by affirming him.
2. How much time he spent living/working in New Jersey/New York.
I just knew there was something about Jersey! Having lived and worked there myself, there's a certain energy NJ has that is infectious, I can't really put my finger on it but particularly in the Newark area. I know a lot of greats started out there so it could be there but it's very eclectic and a very significant place in terms of African American History. I still wish I had more time to explore that area before the gentrification.
I'm sure it made the most sense for Ye to live in NJ as opposed to NY, still being on the grind and knowing how expensive NYC is. Obviously the proximity to NY and being close to the home of Roc-a-fella makes so much sense but it seems like he appreciated his time there and was able to create memories as well as legendary songs.
Fun fact: His father, Ray West lived in Takoma Park, Maryland for a time - another place I'm very familiar with, as my aunt lives there and my siblings and cousins and I would spend summers there during school summer holidays.
3. Early support from well established artists and celebrities.
It was really good to see him align with established artists, such as Mos Def, Mase and Talib Kweli so early in his career. I'm curious to see who else he was around and believed in him from the beginning as the documentary plays out. It was really cool to see him bond with legendary Houston, Texas rapper, Scarface when Ye played him unfinished versions of 'Family Business' and 'Jesus Walks.' What a full circle moment with the latter becoming a song synonymous with the name Kanye West.
We also got to see him go on the Roc-A-Fella Dynasty tour after officially signing with Roc-A-Fella Records and how his label mates, Damon Dash and Jay-Z all embraced him. I really enjoyed the music and artists that came out of the camp during that era so I'm looking forward to seeing what it was like in the early days of the Roc and the relationship dynamics.
4. How long he'd been grinding
Obviously Not a hard factor to fathom based on the where he currently is in his career but I didn't realise he'd been at as young as 13/14. Again, there was mention of him aligning with the right people, other up-and-coming creatives, talented producers, such as No ID and watching and learning from them to perfect his craft. To know what you want to do in life and have that much belief in yourself at such a young age is really admirable. He was for sure destined to be above average in all his endeavours.
5. Ye meeting Pharrell Williams
Judging by the footage, I'm sure that was the first time they had met and being a huge lover of both of their music - that was definitely a significant moment. Two legends, albeit Pharrell the more recognised one, meeting for the first time who would both go on to do incredible things for the culture together and individually. As we know, the two would go on to collaborate on many things including linking up with Lupe Fiasco to create the supergroup, Child Rebel Soldier. I wonder if he meant it when he said (talking to the camera about Kanye), "One of the sickest niggas that do what he do."
I really enjoyed part 1 and the set up for what's to come. Thanks to Coodie and Chike, seeing things from this perspective will maybe give us more insight and understanding into why he operates the way he does. I hope reliving these moments and allowing us to see some of those difficult ones this close up is a positive, perhaps even further healing experience for him.