John Legend released his highly anticipated eighth studio album, LEGEND, via Republic Records. Executive produced by Legend and prolific producer-writer Ryan Tedder (Beyoncé, Adele), the vibrant double album is suffused with an unapologetic spirit of sensuality and joy, informed by the full vulnerability of pain, praise and healing.
ACT I of the epic double album recalls vividly the worldly, sensual pleasures of Saturday night – full of lust, self, sex and adventure. It opens with “Rounds”, an immersive joint featuring Rick Ross, an artist with whom Legend has collaborated perhaps more than any other.
Other tracks include the smoldering R&B bedroom romp “Splash” featuring Jhene Aiko and rapper Ty Dolla $ign, “Dope,” a “summery, feel-good track” featuring rapper JID (Rolling Stone) and “Love,” featuring Jazmine Sullivan, whom Legend has known since she was a young artist. ACT I climaxes in the immediately addictive and utterly uplifting “All She Wanna Do” featuring Saweetie, which Uproxx called a “sexy, dancefloor banger” and Rolling Stone described as a “roller disco jam.”
ACT II evokes the feeling of a Sunday morning, with its focus on healing, intimacy, soulfulness and commitment. It includes “Honey,” “a sultry, jazz-inspired” R&B track featuring Muni Long (Billboard) and “Wonder Woman,” a touching tribute to the power and grace of all the women in Legend’s life featuring the nostalgic, soulful Dap Kings. Other tracks on ACT II include “Good,” featuring Ledisi, a tale of intimate healing and the relief that comes with knowing you’re in a relationship with the right person and “Pieces,” a devastatingly beautiful ballad about living with loss and grief.
LEGEND has the feeling of a classic, and yet feels new, representing a fresh start for the artist with record label Republic, and a playful, adventurous feel. At the same time, it asserts its place in the canon of Black art, where honoring one’s ancestral story is as much part of existence as is that love, beauty and joy.
“I never feel divorced from my ancestors,” said Legend. “I have such reverence for my musical heritage, that I don’t feel like I need to leave it behind to be adventurous, or creative, or to try something new. When I’m creating something new, I’m still hearing the voices and influences of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway and Prince. Black musicians have always been at the forefront of innovation in music. But where I think hip hop is always about what’s new, with soul music, we are a bit more nostalgic … and hopefully what we’ve been able to do with LEGEND is that synthesis of looking forward, but also connecting with where we come from.”
John Legend is set to perform “Pieces” from the new album at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 12. Next month, the EGOT winner will return to Las Vegas for his critically acclaimed ‘Love in Las Vegas’ residency, with shows running from October 14 through October 29.
LEGEND Track List:
“Rounds” ft. Rick Ross
“Dope” (ft. JID)
“Strawberry Blush” (ft. Free Nationals)
“Guy Like Me”
“All She Wanna Do”
“Splash” (ft Jhene Aiko, Ty Dolla $ign)
“Fate” (ft. Amber Mark)
“Love” (ft. Jazmine Sullivan)
“One Last Dance”
“All She Wanna Do” (ft. Saweetie)
“Honey” (ft. Muni Long)
“I Want You to Know”
“Speak in Tongues” (ft. Jada Kingdom)
“The Other Ones” (ft. Rapsody)
“Good” (ft. Ledisi)
“I Don’t Love U Like I Used To”