John Legend insists the Kanye West you see is “pretty much what you get.” During a recent interview, the singer discussed the rapper and entrepreneur’s public antics — and how West’s political ambitions and support for Donald Trump strained their longstanding friendship.
During the chat with David Axelrod — Barack Obama’s former chief strategist and advisor — on his podcast, The Axe Files, Legend opened up about the controversial rapper, saying there isn’t much about West that the public doesn’t already know. “I think he’s been very open with who he is and his struggles with mental health and he’s very real, honestly,” Legend said, adding, “he’s been pretty upfront with his opinions, his struggles, all the things that he’s dealing with… 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.”
In that light, it’s perhaps unsurprising that West’s outspoken support of Trump and his presidential ambitions in 2020 — reportedly aided partly by Republican operatives allegedly trying to siphon votes from Joe Biden — caused a major rift between West and Legend.
“We aren’t friends as much as we used to be because honestly, I think, we publicly disagreed on his running for office, his supporting Trump,” Legend said. “I think it became too much for us to sustain our friendship, honestly. He was upset that I didn’t support his run for [the] presidency of the United States of America for understandable reasons… I wasn’t alone in that, but, you know, he was not happy about that, and we really haven’t been close since then.”
In a 2020 interview with the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, Legend spoke about how he viewed West’s relationship with politics. While some of West’s earlier work was inspired by the conscious rap of the Nineties/early-2000s, Legend said they rarely spoke about politics when they were coming up together, so he never really had a strong sense of what West actually believed.
“I haven’t been privy to his inner thoughts about his political evolution,” Legend said. “Of course I’ve been privy to the same proclamations and texts and tweets that everyone else in the world has seen. And everyone saw us texting each other and talking about it, but I just don’t know where he is politically, and I didn’t know when we were together a lot.”