Coodie captures the tensions of Ye’s early years, staying close as the rapper receives an onslaught of insults and insults. We see him jump through the offices of Roc-A-Fella, playing “All Falls Down” in front of bored secretaries, seasoned A&R reps, and pretty much anyone who’s going to listen. At best, Yi is greeted as an annoyance and at worst as a joke. We watch him repeatedly get denied a record deal while still faltering Just Enough to continue achieving beats for rapper Roc-A-Fella, after the smashing success of Ye for Jay-Z’s “Izzo”, which became the rapper’s first 10 singles.
Roc-A-Fella’s list seems to treat Ye the way teens treat an annoying friend who has a car. It’s an outsider, but it’s useful. Many rappers are perplexed about the presence of Coodie and his camera – they see him as nobody, and he doesn’t deserve such attention – but they get past their confusion to ask him for another beat. In the meantime, he tells everyone who will listen, “This camera is for a documentary about me.” He’s glad to use Coodie’s camera presence as a legit.
Jane Yeohs It also offered a treasure trove of small gains for the one who needed it. In a sequence that makes you cry, he returns to his mother’s apartment in Chicago and flawlessly reads one of his high school talents displays. Elsewhere, you find yourself rooting for him as he talks his way to a feature in Jay-Z’s song. And in the second episode, we deal with an amazing moment where Farrell listens to “Through the Wires” for the first time and is amazed at the genius.
Still, Jane Yeohs It makes relatively little commentary on its topic. Coodie is content to be in Ye’s presence, where he is silent for long periods of time. When Coodie does talk, he rarely argues with the star or even asks provocative questions. As a result, the Doctor feels out of sync with the way we normally receive Ye – either we get challenged in interviews or he’s bent on spinning his own narrative. In Coodie’s shots, he’s free to be himself, and inhabit a range of situations. He is fallible and frustrated, weak and victorious, cunning and disoriented. While this is exciting to watch, in the end it hurts the documentary. Jane Yeohs He is often uninterested in taking perspective, let alone passing judgment on his mercurial subject.
But by abandoning the controversial project to explain Yi’s legacy, it turns into something else: an lament for a severed tie. Coodie seems to know he’s pretty close to the topic, which is probably why the documentary works best as a story about the two men’s strained friendship.
Although the first two parts provide comprehensive documentation of Ye’s rise, the third part opens with a time leap. Not long, but annoying. We watch Cody and his camera go from playing a central role in Yi’s life, to the 2006 post-Grammy party, when apparently drunk Yi forgets Cody’s name multiple times. It hurts to watch Cody’s face here as he acknowledges the change in the star’s proximity.
From that point on, the distance is only growing. There is a check-in here or there, but for the most part the couple diverges from each other. As Coodie gradually loses access to Ye, he begins to rely on news clips and fan shots on YouTube, and the distance becomes a juxtaposition; Clips of Yi resisting the idea that he needs time off to grieve for his mother are tuned to cute snapshots that Cody takes of him and Donda world apart. Ye’s video alone in the aftermath of Taylor Swift’s disaster contrasts with the early days of his career, when he always had a room full of people to lean on.
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