John Legend: Kanye’s Trump support, White House run ‘became too much’ for friendship

Photos of two smiling men
Left, a January 2021 photo of John Legend. Right, Kanye West in October 2019.
(Raven B. Varona / For The Times; Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images)

Grammy and Oscar winner John Legend says he and Kanye West have made amends after their public falling-out but that they’re not as close as they once were.

That’s due to the firebrand artist, who legally changed his name to Ye, supporting former President Donald Trump and then making his own White House run in the 2020 election, Legend said on CNN’s podcast “The Axe Files With David Axelrod.”

“We aren’t friends as much as we used to be because I honestly think because we publicly disagreed on his running for office and supporting Trump. I think it became too much for us to sustain our friendship honestly,” said Legend, whose real name is John Stephens.

“He was upset that I didn’t support his run for presidency of the United States of America — for understandable reasons,” he added. “I wasn’t alone in that. But, you know, he was not happy about that. And we really haven’t been close since then.”

Ultimately, West, who appeared on the ballot in a dozen states as an independent after launching a last-minute campaign that summer, trailed behind President Joe Biden and Trump by tens of millions of votes. But, in his concession, Ye announced plans to run again.

The singer is promoting progressive candidates running for district attorney, choosing to focus on cities and counties at a time of national political gridlock.

June 2, 2022


The celebrated EGOT artist, 43, also discussed his formative relationship with West, 45, on the podcast, explaining how they came up as peers in the music industry in the early aughts. Ye was an up-and-coming hip-hop star and producer and Legend played instruments, produced and ghost-wrote songs for other artists. The two worked on each other’s early recordings, including Legend’s demo-turned-debut album “Get Lifted” and Ye’s “College Dropout,” both released in 2004.

Legend, who is expecting another child with his wife, TV personality and model Chrissy Teigen, notably performed his hit “All of Me” at West’s 2014 wedding to reality star Kim Kardashian. Then Legend and Ye’s public falling-out came in 2018 as West leaked text messages between them highlighting their clashing political views.

The “Glory” and “Higher” musician appeared to initiate the now-infamous text exchange, telling Ye he was weary of his Trump endorsement and what it means to fans and people of color. Ye posted the screenshots online taking the private conversation public and marking the demise of the friendship.

Ye has had a whirlwind year punctuated by abrupt performance withdrawals (Coachella and the Grammy Awards) and has drifted out of the public eye amid heightened concerns about his mental health. In March, Ye was suspended from Instagram over racist remarks he made about “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah amid his own divorce proceedings with Kardashian and her relationship with “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson. (Legend and Teigen are still close with Kardashian.)

Axelrod also asked Legend what people don’t understand about Ye, who has increasingly become an enigma.

“Well, I think people get a lot about him. I think he’s been very open with who he is and his struggles with mental health. And he’s very real, honestly,” Legend explained. “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.

“And I think what you see with him is pretty much what you get. I don’t feel like he’s a whole separate person in private than he is in public. I think you’re pretty much seeing the real Kanye publicly,” he added.

Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah turned a camera on Kanye for more than 20 years. They captured his hyperfocused path to stardom from his early days to icon status, and the highs and lows along the way.

June 20, 2022


Legend still had kind words for his friend and said that seeing Ye succeed in the music industry about a year before he broke through too was useful for him.

“It was almost like an apprenticeship where I got to see everything that was going to happen to me like a year in advance. And it helped me, I think, mentally prepare for it and know how to move in that world before I was the focus of attention,” he said.