John Legend Talks 'Hamilton Mixtape' Cameo, Kanye West's Hospitalization & Donald Trump Presidency

John Legend
Eliot Lee Hazel

John Legend

John Legend's calendar remained full in 2016. After releasing his fifth studio album Darkness and Light earlier this month, the singer/songwriter also landed a role in the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone-led musical La La Land and a guest spot on Lin-Manuel Miranda's The Hamilton Mixtape.

"[Lin-Manuel Miranda] asked me to do that one, and if you read the casting notice when they originally cast George Washington, they said they wanted a John Legend type for it [laughs]," he told Rolling Stone about his Hamilton Mixtape contribution. "So I think he already saw that was the right song for me. But I decided I wanted to change the melody, change the chord progression, and make it feel like I wanted it to feel. I did kind of like a gospel version – and I sent it off and didn't even hear back from them! They didn't really say if they liked it. But they sent me a mix to approve and put it on their album, so they must have liked it enough."

He also weighed in on Donald Trump's forthcoming move into office as president. "It's a bit of a challenge 'cause we don't know who he is all the time. He's been consistent about being a racist and about a couple of other things, but he's also been wildly inconsistent and lied a lot," Legend explained. "So we truly don't know how he's gonna govern. We haven't seen anyone like him before. It's a very kind of different world now, knowing that someone's going to possibly dismantle a lot of what Obama accomplished. I don't know where we're going to go."

As for his longtime friend and collaborator Kanye West -- who recently met with the President-elect at Trump Tower after being hospitalized for exhaustion -- Legend didn't want to attempt to play "pop psychologist" but wished the rapper the best. "I just want him to do whatever he needs to do to feel better and to feel like he's ready to go again, because music needs him. The world needs him. I think he's such an important talent. We need him at full strength. How do you balance everything you do – acting, producing, music, fatherhood?"

Legend, a father to baby daughter Luna and husband to supermodel Chrissy Teigen, also related West's situation to his own and touched on dealing with fame. "You start with knowing what's most important to you. My family is most important and then second is music. My music career is the reason I have the power to do everything else," he said. "There's a lot of power in celebrity. I obviously use it to sell my own projects and produce TV, and, you know, I use it to get reservations at restaurants too [laughs]. But you try to use it for something that'll benefit the world too."

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