John Legend and Kanye West have a long-standing friendship that hit a slight bump earlier this year. Shortly after West proclaimed his love for Donald Trump via Twitter, the EGOT winner responded by letting his former music mentor know how dangerous the president’s rhetoric can be for millions of citizens.
In the end, they agreed to disagree. A new interview with The Wall Street Journal finds Legend breaking down why he felt the need to address West publicly.
“Clearly I disagreed with some of the things he was saying,” Legend admitted, “and I was worried that his saying it might empower some of the wrong forces, might be really demoralizing for people who looked up to him and thought of him as a leader.”
Legend acknowledges West was likely drawn to Trump’s “personality,” “marketing panache” and “don’t-give a f*ckness.” Still, wearing the MAGA hat can send the message that one actually supports his policies, which was the main issue for the Jesus Christ Superstar actor.
“My point to him was that when you wear that hat, when you appear to be endorsing him, you’re endorsing his policies as well, all of his rhetoric and not just the parts you like,” said Legend. “I think we had to talk about it, because we didn’t want people to be deceived into following his line of thought without considering the full ramifications.”
At the time of their social media exchange, the “Ordinary People” artist addressed the moment with Angela Yee, saying he had no intention of trying to shame West but only wanted to let him know of his huge impact on culture.
“I wasn’t trying to make him feel bad, I just wanted him to think of what he’s saying and what it means to people. He’s talking about free thoughts and free thinking a lot and that’s fine for him to think whatever he thinks, but whenever he makes an utterance and he publishes it, it has impact,” Legend asserted.
The R&B star may just get his wish; West recently proclaimed he’s done talking politics after being “used to spread messages” he doesn’t believe in.
My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!
— ye (@kanyewest) October 30, 2018
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.