John Legend on What Kanye West 'Saw in Trump': 'Underdog Narcissist'

West, says Legend, related to the former president as "the kind of underdog narcissist that he sees in himself"

john legend and kanye west
John Legend (L), Kanye West. Photo: Bruce Glikas/WireImage; Brad Barket/Getty

John Legend is reflecting on longtime friend Kanye West's political turn — and what it was like performing on the day of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' inauguration.

The musician's remarks come in an interview with author Danny Goldberg, whose new book Bloody Crossroads 2020: Arts, Entertainment, and Resistance to Trump, was released Tuesday.

"I don't see Kanye as a political person at all. We never talked about politics. He had never voted before 2020," Legend, 42, told Goldberg in an interview for the book.

Legend further theorized that the 44-year-old West's support for Donald Trump might have been because he saw something in the former president that mirrored himself.

As Legend told Goldberg, "He saw in Trump the kind of underdog narcissist that he sees in himself."

Legend has been a longtime friend of West's, attending the rapper's 2014 wedding to Kim Kardashian West, though he's said their relationship changed over time. And they've had political differences before: In 2018, West went public with a private message from Legend about West backing Trump.

After Legend reached out to West via text, West tweeted a screenshot of the exchange.

"Hey it's JL. I hope you'll reconsider aligning yourself with Trump," Legend wrote to West, according to the screenshot. "You're way too powerful and influential to endorse who he is and what he stands for. As you know, what you say really means something to your fans. They are loyal to you and respect your opinion."

Legend continued in that text: "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. Don't let this be part of your legacy. You're the greatest artist of our generation."

West replied: "I love you John and I appreciate your thoughts. You bringing up my fans or my legacy is a tactic based on fear used to manipulate my free thought."

West has since given conflicting opinions about his views on Trump and Trump's platform.

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Kanye West</a>
Kanye West speaks to a crowd at a campaign rally in South Carolina on July 19, 2020. MEGA

In a 2020 interview with U.K.'s The Sunday Times, the "All of Me" singer addressed his bond with West, saying, "I don't think we're less friends because of the Trump thing. I just think we're doing our own thing. He's up in Wyoming. I'm here in L.A. 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."

West launched his bid for president of the United States in mid-2020 amid a tumultuous period in his personal life and various episodes of erratic behavior. At his only campaign event, he divulged deeply personal details about his family.

He ultimately earned about 60,000 votes in a dozen states.

Legend, meanwhile, threw his support behind Biden after his first choice for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, failed to garner enough votes to become the Democratic nominee.

He spoke to Goldberg in the new book about performing the night of the inauguration, a historic event that took place just one week after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election results.

John Legend Performs "Feeling Good"| Biden-Harris Inauguration 2021
John Legend. Biden Inaugural Committee/YouTube

"Washington was a ghost town. It was just troops and no one else," Legend said in the book. "We didn't defund the National Guard, I'll tell you that. They were intent on making sure whatever storm that QAnon thought was going to happen did not happen."

Despite performing in the shadow of the violence, Legend said his performance, "felt good. I literally sang the song 'Feeling Good.' It felt like a release."

Legend continued: "Am I going to agree with 100 percent of what Biden does? No, but I know that he's going to do what he thinks is right and he's going to do it in a way that I think is genuinely concerned about the safety and welfare of the American people. And that's a big change."

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