WORDS Mark Webster
PHOTOS Gavin Bond
For Issue 21 of Jocks & Nerds, we spoke to singer, actor and now film producer, John Legend, ahead of the release of his new album, Darkness and Light. In the wide-ranging interview, he touches on his multi-hyphenate day jobs, his early days singing in the clubs around Philadelphia, and his view of Obama's legacy as Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House. Check out a preview of the issue below and for the full interview, grab the issue, which hits shelves on Thursday 1 December.
(Click on the gallery to see extra images from the interview)
On Black Lives Matter.
"It’s been a challenge for Obama, because he represents the State, and he represents law enforcement, and he represents the Justice Department, so the folks that are protesting are protesting that apparatus. But I think he understands where those protests are coming from. But he still has to represent the Government.
"I think he genuinely knows what the black man in America has to deal with, and the stereotypes that come with that. And the possible violence that comes from those stereotypes. But he also understands the importance of law enforcement, and the fact that it has to feel legitimate, for people to feel safe [...] But I think that people who are not in his position, we have every right to speak out, and we have every right to say our country needs to do better. We have every right to speak truth to power."
On Donald Trump.
"I think people are already missing the way the Obamas conducted themselves in office. Particularly when you compare them, especially with Trump and how tawdry so much of the campaign has been. I think people are appreciating how scandal-free his Presidency has been [..] Combine that with the fact the economy is doing much better than it was before he came into office. Unemployment’s down, incomes are rising. I think all in all, people are realising he did a pretty great job."
On his musical influences and his album title, Darkness and Light.
"I look to artists like Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers for inspiration more than any other artists. I consider myself to be someone who is part of a legacy, but doing it in my own way. They sang about love and relationships in a really beautiful, sensual way, but they also sang about love in a broader sense: love for mankind, love for justice and love for peace.
"While 'Darkness and Light' is the name of one of the songs, those words kept coming back to me. There's a lot of darkness in the world, pain and conflict. But the album also represents the desire to find light, optimism, love and joy in the midst of all that."