John Legend: Not your everyday artiste.
It's hard to believe that John Roger Stephens is just 35 years old; yet he's producing such mature lyrics and a unique sound that for me can only mean one thing, super stardom. In fact from the very first time I heard this young man some four years ago I predicted that he was going to be great. I further predict that he is going to be the next black genius song star in this era.
Yes, all the ladies all over the world have fallen in love with his infectious voice which has a ring of sincerity about it, coupled with a God-given gift for penning wonderful melodies. We all know him, as the world does, as John Legend. It was really because of the authenticity of his voice which made one reminisce on the old days of Motown that he was re-christened as one of the legends and the title Legend stuck and a star was born.
His first Grammy as an R& B artist was since 2004; prior to that and beyond he has done work with many prominent rap artists such as Jay zee and Kanye West. He played piano on Lauryn Hill's 'Everything is Everything' since not only his voice came into high demand. John Legend did work with Jamaica's Buju Bantan; many fans will remember a 2009 Reggae smasher entitled 'Can't be my lover'.
Though his melodies, chord changes, bridges are all unique it's his song writing which stands out as the line hit home hard and remain memorable. For example his use of oxymoron in "All of me"
"Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections" Or "My heads under water but I am breathing fine."
Such profound lyrics which relates a story of helpless dominance to love, mesmerized by a relationship which is "drawing him in and kicking him out" at will. He's so dizzy he confesses yet…he's 'feeling fine' even as he tries to unravel what's going on in her beautiful mind; he is too happy to be part of her magical ride. Legend is brilliant and many may have missed the profound nature and sadness of the story as everyone is chewed up by its innovative lyrical content.
"In Ordinary People" there's another favourite love song:
"I hang up you call We rise and we fall As we feel like walking away And our love advances… Cuz we are ordinary people We don't know which way to go May be we should take it slow…take it slow"
Notice how he juxtaposes cards, a game of chance, to relationships hearts … and other imagery in "This Time?"
"This time I want it all; this time I want it all Showing you all my cards, giving you all my heart This time I'll take the chance, this time I'll be your man…"
Such lyrics are as haunting as the piano riffs he fondles, that since Lionel Richie I have not witnessed such conviction from a song-writer of that mode and genre. This was what caught my attention a few years ago and I have so far not been proven wrong.
Well, it's not just for the lovers and the romantics for whom I don't think I qualify, so "Everybody Knows" hold special meaning for me and for all those who have been hurt and that may mean all of us at sometime or the other. It is so pathetic when people respond with' I know qui!", when really no one except you and your God know the difficulties that you face:
"Cause everybody knows, that nobody really knows. How to make it work or how to ease the hurt. We've heard it all before, that everybody knows just how to make it right. I wish we gave it one more try. One more try, one more try, one more try, 'Cause everybody knows, nobody really knows. "
This ability to compose is what makes the difference, not our static local Bouyon music, compared to "Mwem Twavai Pou Ayen" by Exile One evokes sentiments of slavery and is still being used at schools and universities for research papers in some French territories.
Certainly I am sold on John Legend and so are many others. Not necessarily because persons are so much in love and sentimental but because he can utilize words to evoke images and situations we already know of, but could not find a way to express them. He is my international artist for 2013-2014 and possibly my number one for this decade.