John Legend felt prepared for success as he witnessed his good friend Kanye West skyrocket to fame in the early 2000s.
The All of Me hitmaker moved to New York in 2000 to try and get a record deal and his roommate introduced him to the Stronger rapper the following year.
They worked together on each other’s demos for their debut albums and Legend stood by as West found critical and commercial success with The College Dropout in early 2004.
Reflecting on their early friendship in an interview with The Guardian, Legend explained that watching West’s rise helped get him ready for his own.
“Me and Kanye were working on each other’s demos – mine, which would become Get Lifted, and his, which would be The College Dropout,” he said. “Being with Kanye and witnessing him blow up in the early days helped prepare me for what would happen. When success finally happened for me, I felt like I was able to not be overwhelmed by it.”
Legend recalled how having writing credits on The College Dropout made him immediately more attractive to record labels who had brushed him off before.
“I would get told ‘no’ by a lot of people in the industry,” he shared. “I’d get really lowball offers for record deals or people would tell me to work more on my demo.
“Finally, The College Dropout came out in 2004 and it just took off. That’s when the music from Get Lifted started to sound a lot better to all the record execs.”
Legend signed with West’s G.O.O.D. Music label and released Get Lifted later that year. He declined to comment on the current state of friendship with the rapper following their feud over political differences several years ago.