While still in his teens, Legend (then John Stephens) played on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything," before moving to New York to develop his own material. Legend has played on and written for records by Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson and Twista, and put in a guest appearance on Talib Kweli's recent album, The Beautiful Struggle. He sang the hooks on Jay-Z's "Encore" and, notably, West's "Jesus Walks."
West returned the favor, co-writing Get Lifted's first single, "Used to Love U," and Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am produced the second single, "Ordinary People."
The result is a brand of soul that's mannered, even elegant. And Legend's got range: Two luscious odes to infidelity -- "She Don't Have to Know" and "Number One" -- are followed by an equally convincing promise to not stray, "I Can Change." Best of all, "Used to Love U" bears West's self-doubting stamp: "Maybe, baby/Puffy, Jay-Z would all be better for you/'Cause all I could do is love you."