Jun opens up about the chaotic breakdown of their friendship after Ye calls it a “sell”.
John Legend and Kanye West’s friendship goes back decades, with the pair first meeting by complete coincidence in New York.
After completing four years at the University of Pennsylvania, John—who at that point was by his real name, John Stevens—moved to town, and his roommate happened to be Kanye’s cousin, Devon Harris.
Devon introduced Jun to Yi, and the rest was history. Ye was instrumental in the early days of John’s career and was instrumental in giving him his stage name.
Meanwhile, Jon famously sang at Yi’s wedding to Kim Kardashian in 2014, and the two were as close to the recording studio as they are in.
Explaining how his nickname “John Legend” originated, John previously told Jimmy Fallon that a friend he met through Ye, J. Ivy, started calling him “The Legend” while composing music together.
The name ended up becoming a private nickname within the circle of friends, but one day Yi set a mixed tape where he referred to John as “John Legend”.
“It just started to spread among more people who were listening to our music,” John said. And then, at some point, I had to decide, Will I stay with John Stevens?Which I was totally fine with. I wasn’t looking for a stage name. Or am I going to go with that bolder name and call myself a legend before I even get a record deal?“
Ye was equally influential when John’s record deal was finally reached, with the rapper serving as producer on his debut album, lift upin 2004. The record ended up winning a Grammy for Best R&B Album, and John also won a Grammy for Best New Artist that year.
In addition to producing John’s albums, Yi also worked as John’s manager for a while, and the two collaborated on many tracks throughout their careers.
However, in 2018, their longstanding friendship was soured when Yi began to publicly support then-controversial President Donald Trump.
In fact, John was so concerned that he privately reached out to Yi urging him to reconsider his support for Trump in the messages Yi photographed and shared on social media at the time.
“Hey, it’s JL. I hope you’ll reconsider aligning yourself with Trump,” said John’s first text. “You are too powerful and influential to be able to endorse who he is and what he stands for. You know, what you say really means something to your fans. They are loyal to you and respect your opinion.”
“A lot of people who love you feel betrayed right now because they know the damage Trump’s policies are doing, especially to people of color,” he continued. “Don’t let this be part of your legacy. You are the greatest artist of our generation.”
In the screenshot, I replied: “I love you, John, and I appreciate your ideas. Evoking my legacy is a fear-based tactic used to manipulate my free thought.”
After sharing the messages, Yi tweeted, “I tweeted John’s text to show that there are people around me who disagree with me and express their opinions. I respect everyone’s opinion, but stand on my own head.” He later added, “If you feel something don’t let peer pressure manipulate you.”
He also shared John’s answer which read: “Think freely. Think with empathy and context too. Your words and actions have consequences. Much love.”
“I really appreciate this conversation with John Legend because I am actually very sympathetic,” Yi told his followers. “I’m still a telethon kid. I feel like when people think of MAGA, they don’t think of empathy.”
The following year, John downplayed his relationship with Yi because he admitted he found the rapper’s support for Trump particularly “difficult” because Yi had no history of being a politician.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, John said of their various political stances, “I’m not trying to disown Kanye because I still love him and love everything we’ve done creatively together, but we’ve never been the best of friends.”
“I think what has always been challenging is that Kanye has never been a politician,” he added. “He kind of embraced the spirit and energy of Trump being countercultural in his support.”
And the following year, in 2020, Yi announced he was running for president – something John refused to support.
In November 2021, Yi called Jun because he turned his back on him, calling him a “cheat” because he confirmed they were no longer friends and demanded an apology.
talking on Drinking heroes On the podcast, Yi said, “Both John Legend and Big Sean, when I ran for president, Democrats used to come to their boy who really changed their lives, and that’s disingenuous. And I don’t swing with either. And I need my apologies.”
Now John asserts that Yi’s running for president combined with his support for Trump has become “too much” for their friendship to last.
“We’re not friends as much as we used to because I honestly think because we disagreed publicly about his nomination for office, and his support for Trump, I think it’s become difficult for us to maintain our friendship,” John said. ax files Thursday’s podcast.
John said, “He was upset that I didn’t support his candidacy for President of the USA for understandable reasons. I wasn’t alone in that. But, you know, he wasn’t happy about it. And we haven’t really been close since then.”
Despite their difficult relationship, Jun continued to praise how “open” Ye was, and insisted that the public know “the real Kanye.”
“I think he’s been very open about his identity and struggles with his mental health. And he’s very real, frankly. So I think there’s not much about him that people don’t understand,” he said.
“He’s been very vocal about his opinions, his struggles, and all the things he deals with. And I think what you see with him is pretty much what you get. I don’t feel like he’s a completely separate person in private life than he is in public,” John continued. “I think you pretty much see the real Kanye in public.”
John’s appearance on the podcast came just a day after his wife, Chrissy Teigen, announced that she was pregnant – two years after giving birth to their son, Jack.
John and Chrissy also share 6-year-old Luna and 4-year-old Miles.