John Legend: Hip-Hop’s Soul Man Returns

An excerpt from our exclusive interview…
John Legend by Liam MF Warwick

John Legend is back with a new album, ‘Love In The Future’ – his first solo outing since 2008’s ‘Evolver’. Clash caught up with the Ohio-born singer in issue 86 – available to buy now.

Here’s a little excerpt from our interview…

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‘Love In The Future’ leaps between contemporary and old school, reminding the world of R&B up-and-comers such as Frank Ocean where his particular breed of neo-soul originated.

Speaking of himself as an influence to these young artists, Legend maintains a modest yet accepting manner that allows him to make bold statements without a hint of arrogance.

“I think [those younger artists] were inspired by albums like ‘Get Lifted’ and ‘Once Again’, and you know, they tell me their favourite songs from those albums. And it’s cool to see that artists who are so good, so talented, listened to me in their formative years as creative people. but it does make me feel a little bit old…

“I’m inspired by them, now. They push me to continue to grow and try to be a better artist.”

And with one of his very first jobs being to play piano for Lauryn Hill’s track ‘Everything Is Everything’ from her seminal ‘The Miseducation Of…’ album, Legend knows more than most about the importance of inspiration and looking up to your musical peers.

“I feel like there’s so many artists of my generation who are inspired by that album. You feel like everybody’s trying to capture some of that essence, but nobody’s really duplicated it yet.”

Detailing his work process with long-term collaborator Kanye West, Legend says: “He’s so unpredictable because of his taste, you know; he has very interesting taste and it’s very finely tuned, but it’s also a little unconventional and he pushes me.

“Cos he’s got such an interesting creative mind, he’s always pushing himself and everybody he works with to be as great as we can be, to challenge ourselves, to question the status quo. And that’s a good thing for me.”

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'Who Do We think We Are', from 'Love In The Future'

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Issue 86 of Clash magazine is out now – details here – and features this interview in full.

Interview: Hayley Louisa Brown

Photo: Liam MF Warwick

(John Legend wears: double-breasted jacket by McQueen; bow tie by Richard James; shirt by Cavalli; trousers by Lagerfeld; and shoes by Tom Ford)

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