John Legend & Kanye West’s Friendship & Falling Out, Explained

Legend got candid about what soured their bond.

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30:  Recording artists John Legend (L) and Kanye West attend the 2015 MTV V...
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With decades of collaborations to their credit, John Legend and Kanye West’s friendship even pre-dated their individual fame. The rapper was key to Legend’s career as a fledgling artist, helping him craft his stage name and producing his debut 2004 Get Lifted album, which earned the singer his first two Grammys. After later working together again on 2005’s “Number One” and 2008’s “It’s Over,” Legend even performed at West’s 2014 wedding to Kim Kardashian.

However, during an Aug. 4 interview on David Axelrod’s CNN podcast, The Axe Files, Legend revealed that they “aren’t friends as much as [they] used to be.” The reason? “I honestly think because we publicly disagreed on his running for office, his supporting Trump, I think it became too much for us to sustain our friendship,” the “All of Me” singer explained.

Indeed, the men’s differing political ideologies had publicly been a hot-button issue leading up to and following the 2016 election cycle, though they appeared to keep their debates amicable. In 2018, West tweeted screenshots of texts from his friend asking him to “reconsider” his public support for Donald Trump. “So many people who love you feel so betrayed right now because they know the harm that Trump’s policies cause, especially to people of color,” Legend wrote at the time. “Don’t let this be part of your legacy. You’re the greatest artist of our generation.” After calling that argument a manipulation “tactic based on fear,” the rapper later shared a photo of him and Legend at Chrissy Teigen’s baby shower with the caption, “We got love. Agree to disagree.”

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Things really went left, however, after West announced his candidacy for president in 2020. “He was upset that I didn’t support his run for presidency of the United States of America — for understandable reasons,” the EGOT winner added on The Axe Files. “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 fact, in November 2021, West not only accused Legend and rapper Big Sean of turning their backs on him, but he also demanded an apology. “Both John Legend and Big Sean, when I ran for office, got used quick by the Democrats to come at their boy who actually changed their life, and that’s some sellout shit,” the Yeezy founder claimed on Revolt’s Drink Champs podcast. “And I don’t rock with neither of them. And I need my apologies.”

One thing that likely kept their friendship solid through the years prior to 2016 was that they “never talked about politics,” according to Legend. “Our interaction was almost always about creativity and music,” he told the UK’s Sunday Times in 2020, citing their different stations in life, rather than “the Trump thing” as the cause of them growing apart. “I just think we’re doing our own thing. He’s up in Wyoming. I’m here in LA. We’ve both got growing families and I no longer have a formal business relationship with him as an artist, so I think it’s just part of the natural cycle of life.”

However, the men’s more recent comments have made it clear that their rift was, indeed, much more politically motivated than they initially let on.