Singer John Legend has credited Kanye West with his career success, as their long-time friendship continues to be strained.
Legend, 43, recently stated that his relationship with West, 45, became fraught after the rapper and fashion designer criticized the musician for not supporting him during his ill-fated presidential run back in 2020.
“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,” Legend said in an interview with The New Yorker earlier this month.
While his friendship with West is not in the best place, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award-winner Legend gave credit where it was due on Friday, when he spoke about the controversial star’s impact on his career.
“My career story can’t be told without Kanye’s involvement,” Legend said during an appearance on U.K. TV show Good Morning Britain. “We worked together on my first album, Get Lifted, he signed me to his production company, GOOD Music.
“We made a lot of amazing music together, so I’ll always be grateful for that. Our friendship definitely hit a rough patch. But my career is what it is because of our collaboration.”
West announced on July 4, 2020, he was running for president as an independent under the “Birthday Party”—after publicly expressing his support for then-President Donald Trump.
When West spoke publicly of his support for Trump after the Republican’s successful bid for the White House in 2016, Legend privately messaged the hip-hop star about using his platform to back the one-term U.S. president. West shared screenshots of those messages on social media.
“Everyone saw how I talked to him about it,” Legend told The New Yorker of his messages to West. “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.”
While West’s stance and actions left his friendship with Legend in tatters, the singer has expressed a particular distaste for Trump’s personnel. The team raised money for West’s presidential campaign and helped get him on the ballot by signing petitions for him.
At the time, Trump was campaigning for an ultimately unsuccessful bid for a second term in the White House. In The New Yorker interview, Legend branded the move a “clear scam” to siphon Black votes away from the eventual victor President Biden.
“The most frustrating thing about his run for the Presidency for me was how much it was an operation run by the Trump campaign,” said Legend. “I don’t know how aware [West] was of the fact that there was so much Trump personnel throughout his campaign, raising money for him, getting petitions signed for him, getting him on the ballot.
“I saw their work on his behalf as a clear scam and an operation to try to siphon Black votes away from Biden,” said Legend, “so there was no way I was going to support it. Kanye was upset with that, and we haven’t been friends since, really.”
Legend, who is married to model Chrissy Teigen, went on: “I don’t feel like politics should be everything in your relationships, and your relationships with people shouldn’t only be determined by who they voted for.
“But I do believe that certain things you believe in are indicators of your character, and obviously that will affect your friendships.
“I mean, what are friendships? If they’re not your blood relatives, in many ways they’re defined by your impression of that person’s values, and whether or not there’s some level of compatibility with the way you see the world.
“We’re so online these days, and the fights we’ve had over the past six years on Twitter, particularly around Trump, kind of made politics everything for a lot of people,” said Legend.
“I don’t want to live a life that’s so consumed by politics that it’s the sole determinant of who can be my friend and who can’t. But values matter and character matters and moral compass matters.”
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