Once upon a time, R&B star John Legend and rapper Kanye West were friends and collaborators. Over the years, their lives and careers have headed in different directions, but for some fans, their music remains connected. On Thursday, while appearing on the New York Magazine podcast On with Kara Swisher, the 10-time Grammy winner discussed Kanye’s recent controversy and downfall, as well as the current state of their relationship.
Legend explained that the person he sees posting antisemitic rants and wearing “White Lives Matter” t-shirts is not the same artist he worked with on the albums The College Dropout and Get Lifted.
“I do find him different than he was back then,” Legend said. “I didn’t see hints of this kind of harmful behavior back then, but I think life happens to people, and I think the death of his mother probably had something to do with this. I don’t want to play armchair psychologist, but he’s definitely changed, and a lot of us who have known him over the years are really concerned about it.”
Extreme personality changes in friends and family are things a lot of us have dealt with in the last few years. The thing is, as much as we all want to help loved ones when they clearly need someone to step in, we also all have our own struggles happening and sometimes you have to move on to protect yourself. I’m not saying this is what happened between West and Legend, but their personal and professional paths obviously diverged a long time ago.
“We have not been friends for a while now, and so I’m not personally doing anything, but I do know people who are, and a lot of people are concerned about him,” the Oscar winner said.
The Voice star condemned West’s antisemitic comments, stating, “We need to be clear about how insidious and nasty antisemitism is and has been for centuries.” However, he also believes in “a place for forgiveness.”
“I believe that the forgiver needs to forgive, you know? Like it’s better for you, the person that feels like they’ve been harmed, to be able to forgive,” he said. “Because if you can’t do that, it’s a weight on your life. And so I believe in forgiveness in general. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t face consequences for what they do wrong, but I also do believe in forgiveness.”
Considering how steep Kanye’s downfall was, I’m sure plenty of his friends and family are concerned about him and want to forgive him. But his words and actions have also dragged down Yeezy factory workers and students at the Donda Academy, so my sympathy is reserved for them.