John Legend is speaking out once again about his split with former friend/producer Kanye West, seeking to clarify some comments he made last month about what caused the rift between the former collaborators. In a New Yorker profile the outspoken social justice advocate described how he thought friendships should not be determined by “who they voted for,” but that “certain things you believe in are indicators of your character, and obviously that will affect your friendships.”
That was a lead-in to a discussion about Ye (as West is now known) posting a series of texts between the two about Kanye’s support of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump before the Donda rapper launched his own failed White House bid; Legend sought to clarify that his comments about the rupture in the August CNN story were taken out of context.
“What it got described as was, we stopped being friends because he supported Trump, which was a mischaracterization of what I said,” Legend explained. “That was kind of the Rupert Murdoch version of the story — it was all over the New York Post and Fox News.” However, what Legend told the New Yorker was that West was upset with him for not supporting the MC’s presidential aspirations. “That was the real impetus for us having a strain in our friendship,” he said. “I don’t know what will happen in the future, but he was very upset with me that I didn’t support him and I supported Joe Biden. It’s up to him whether he can get past that.”
In addition to their difference of opinion about West’s support of Trump, Legend also said that the most distressing part of Ye’s anemic presidential run — in which he scored just 60,000 total votes — were reports that it was essentially a ghost operation to amplify Trump’s unsuccessful re-election run. “The most frustrating thing about his run for the Presidency for me was how much it was an operation run by the Trump campaign,” Legend told the magazine of reports that Trump and members of the GOP establishment were helping the musician’s no-shot third-party bid in order to siphon votes from Biden.
“I don’t know how aware he was of the fact that there was so much Trump personnel throughout his campaign, raising money for him, getting petitions signed for him, getting him on the ballot. I saw their work on his behalf as a clear scam and an operation to try to siphon Black votes away from Biden, so there was no way I was going to support it,” Legend said. “Kanye was upset with that, and we haven’t been friends since, really.”
As for his feelings about West posting those screenshots of their text back-and-forth in 2018, Legend said, “Everyone saw how I talked to him about it. I talked to him with love and with empathy, and tried to help him see another way of looking at things. And obviously he went the way he went with it.” A spokesperson for West could not be reached for comment at press time.