Finding Yeezus is a new documentary series centered on solving the mystery of Kanye Quest 3030, an unlicensed fan RPG that hid a secret ending – and which led some to believe it was part of a recruitment drive for a cult.
Beginning on September 26, and airing weekly on Grouse House (a webseries channel set up by Australian comedy group Aunty Donna), the show is hosted by comedians Alexei Toliopoulos and Cameron James. In their Finding Drago and Finding Desperado podcasts, the pair have previously delved into mysteries about unsanctioned Rocky sequels and lost, world-record holding movies, but this will be the first time they take on a gaming subject.
“There’s something so exciting about a video game mystery,” Toliopoulos tells me over email, “it just feels so present tense to us. In the realm of video games, it feels less like trying to look back and more like uncovering an urban legend that’s forming right now.”
It’s a legend that started being told almost a decade ago. Toliopoulos explains how he and James found out about the mystery, and what drew them to solving it:
“Uploaded to the internet virtually anonymously back in 2013, Kanye Quest 3030 was a simple Pokemon-style RPG where you play as Kanye West battle-rapping other famous rappers. Due to its humor and premise, it became a bit of a mildly viral sensation Then it disappeared as these things do… that was until 2 years later, a hidden level in the game was discovered.
“If you prove yourself worthy (by solving some cryptic puzzles) the game admits that everything you have experienced up ’til that point had been a front. With the promise of ‘Ascension’ the game reaches out to you in real life. This has lead many to believe the game was a recruitment tool for a new-age cult called Ascensionism. It’s such a fascinating mystery! I remember playing the game years ago, but didn’t find out about the mystery until the end of 2020 when we had just finished making Finding Desperado and started feeling the itch to challenge ourselves with something even bigger to unravel.”
It quickly became a much bigger mystery than the pair’s previous work – thus their evolution from investigative podcasters to on-screen hosts. The effort has seemingly been worth it – there have been numerous investigations into Kanye Quest over the years, but Toliopoulos and James open the first episode by saying the mystery has never been truly solved – until now.
“The true story of Kanye Quest and the cult of Ascensionism will be revealed in the final episode of Finding Yeezus,” Toliopoulos tells me. “We’ve become quite good investigators since our early days as journalism degree dropouts.”
But the key to Finding Yeezus and the previous podcasts from the hosts is that it’s as much a comedy as an investigation. Toliopoulos and James tend to pick mysteries on the sillier, stranger side of things, but they make clear that the comedy in the show is built around the real investigation – you’re not seeing them construct something for laughs over answers:
“We’re obsessive researchers and uncovering the story is a real organic process,” explains Toliopoulos. “For us, it’s all about the joy of discovery and finding the emotional connection that fuels curiosity. With documentaries, you have to plan so much before you start shooting, but the excitement comes from the surprise of the final product being almost completely different to what we anticipated. It’s hard to anticipate real life! It’s all about finding the narrative in reality and for us, it’s also about building in the comedy.”
Having seen the first two episodes myself, Finding Yeezus is already proving as funny as it is intriguing, with a higher twist-per-minute ratio than I could have realistically expected. There’s a real joy behind it, too – amid a culture of documentary filmmaking that so often reveals the darkest parts of modern life, it’s nice to find something that just wants to revel in how weird and interesting people can be. At least… so far.
Finding Yeezus begins exclusively on the Grouse House YouTube channel next Monday, September 26. There will be six episodes in total, dropping weekly on Mondays until a finale on Tuesday October 25.
Joe Skrebels is also IGN’s Executive Editor of News. He thinks Finding Drago is very possibly the finest podcast ever made, and that you should listen to it. Follow him on Twitter.