Then Kanye paid it forward, agreeing to meet with a University of Pennsylvania grad who was navigating the New York music industry. “My roommate was like, ‘You gotta meet my cousin, Kanye. He’s working on Jay-Z’s album,” John recalled during a 2018 the Tribeca Film Festival event of that initial encounter. “He’s working with all these guys from Roc-A-Fella.”
Soon the two up-and-comers were meeting at Kanye’s Newark apartment. “He would give me beats for my demo and I would write to them, and then I would sing hooks on his,” said John. And when The College Dropout artist finally scored a recording deal with Roc-A-Fella, he got his new pal the green light, too. Shared Legend, “I think they gave him the deal more so he could just make beats for them and they just wanted to keep him in house. But, eventually, he convinced everybody, ‘I’m an artist. I’m not just a producer. I’m an artist. Oh, and, by the way, I signed this really cool kid, John Legend from Ohio, and you should sign him, too.'”
A combined 32 Grammys later, safe to say that was a good call.