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Netflix buys Kanye West documentary at $30m

Netflix has bought a documentary series spanning two decades of Kanye West’s life, said to cover the death of his mother, Donda, in 2007 and his failed 2020 US presidential bid.

The as-yet-untitled film will include previously unseen home videos of West and footage shot over a 21-year period by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, who directed West’s music videos Jesus Walks (Version 3) and Through the Wire.

Billboard reports that the series is set for release this year. A source told Variety that a reported price tag of $30m was inaccurate.

It is not known if details about West’s pending divorce from Kim Kardashian West will be included in the documentary.

His mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, has said the couple’s split will feature in the final series of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, airing now.

It has been an eventful two decades for West, who first became known as a producer, particularly for his work on Jay-Z’s 2001 album The Blueprint. He received massive acclaim for his subsequent solo albums, The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation.

His album 808s and Heartbreak, released in 2008, proved divisive for its heavy use of AutoTune – yet it was also prophetic, as the aesthetic would overtake pop and rap in the decade to come. West’s 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is considered among the defining albums of its era.

His most recent album to receive mass acclaim was 2013’s industrial-tinged Yeezus. Subsequent albums have been marked by erratic releases and lyrics in deemed to be in poor taste. His Christian faith became more central to his work and public persona in the late 2010s: his latest album, 2019’s gospel-inspired Jesus Is King, won best contemporary Christian music album at last month’s Grammy awards.

West has been frequently embroiled in controversy throughout his career, from accusing former US president George W Bush of failing to care about Black people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV video music awards, setting off a decade-long fallout between the two stars.

In 2016, West came out as a Trump supporter, but in 2020 said he was “taking the red hat off”. In 2018, he suggested that slavery was “a choice”. His 2020 presidential bid reportedly violated fundraising rules.

He married Kardashian in 2014. They have four children together. Kardashian asked for greater compassion for West as he experienced erratic public behaviour that she implied was triggered by his bipolar disorder.

West is the latest musician to join a boom in pop star documentaries, following Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Tina Turner, Shawn Mendes and Blackpink.

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