John Legend Opens Up About Rift with Kanye West: “He Was Very Upset with Me”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

John Legend recently opened up about why he’s no longer close with former friend and collaborator Kanye West and said the pair’s political differences ultimately impacted their relationship.

“[Kanye and I] aren’t friends as much as we used to be,” said Legend. “I honestly think because we publicly disagreed on his running for office, his supporting Trump, I think it became too much for us to sustain our friendship, honestly.”

In another interview, Legend said that some of his comments were misinterpreted and focused on West’s support of former president Donald Trump as the main reason for their fallout. 

“Yeah, what it got described as was, we stopped being friends because he supported Trump, which was a mischaracterization of what I said,” added Legend. “That was kind of the Rupert Murdoch version of the story. It was all over the New York Post and Fox News. What I was saying was that he was very upset with me that I didn’t support him [West] running for President, and that was the real impetus for us having a strain in our friendship.”

He added, “I don’t know what will happen in the future, but he was very upset with me that I didn’t support him and I supported Joe Biden. It’s up to him whether he can get past that.”

West ran for president during the 2020 election, something he first hinted at doing during the MTV VMAs in 2015. Though Legend said political views along should determine a relationship, he did say he revealed certain things about someone’s character and referenced the pair’s earlier Twitter exchange over Trump.

“Everyone saw how I talked to him about it,” said Legend. “I talked to him with love and with empathy and tried to help him see another way of looking at things. And obviously, he went the way he went with it.”

The pair’s friendship and collaboration stretch back to the early 2000s around the production of both artists’ debuts. Prior to West’s 2004 debut The College Dropout, Legend helped him with his 2002 mixtape Get Well Soon. West also co-wrote several songs on Legend’s 2004 debut Once Again, which he also co-produced, including Legend’s debut single “Used to Love U.”

Both continued to co-write one another’s songs throughout the years as well as collaborate on tracks for other artists, including Janet Jackson’s 2004 single “I Want You,” Estelle’s 2008 hit (also featuring Ye), “American Boy,” J. Cole’s “Work Out,” released in 2011, and more.

Legend, who recently released his eight album Legend in 2022, said he still respects West for standing by his beliefs and being open about his mental health and personal struggles.

“He’s very real, honestly,” said Legend. ‘So I think there’s not a lot about him that people don’t get, like he’s been pretty upfront with his opinions, his struggles, all the things that he’s dealing with.”

Photo: Art Streiber/NBC

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