29 April 2009

Somebody to Love: John Legend

I still need to cool off from my explosion below and there's really no better way to do that than listening to John Legend, an artist that is not only one of my favorites but something even a little more than that. He's one of those favorites that you would fight to the death for. He transcends the term "favorite". When I'm 65 I will still be listening to him and loving every minute of it.

Born John Stephens in Springfield, Ohio, Legend started out majoring in African American Literature at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, he was introduced to Kanye West through his college roommate and formed an instant friendship. He was the first artist signed to Kanye's then brand new GOOD Music label and released the album, Get Lifted, which eventually went multi-platinum and produced the single "Used to Love U" and the outrageous hit, "Ordinary People".

His second album, Once Again, hit stores in 2006 with only one major single, "Save Room", getting real appreciation on the airwaves. On a personal note, this album meant a lot to me. As it was coming out, I was going through a huge life change and listened to specific songs on it almost everyday by myself either through headphones or blasting it to drown out some depressing times. For a long period afterward I was unable to hear even the opening beats of some of these songs because they had become so poignant but now, three years later, I'm a little more at ease with them and cannot think of another artist or album that could move me in a deeper way than this has.

Most recently, in 2008, Legend came out with the more mainstream sounding record, Evolver. The first single being the dance anthem, "Green Light", featuring Andre 3000 from Outkast. As with his previous two albums, Legend manages to make classic tracks that are destined to stand the test of time. If that sounds a little patronizing and generic, check it out for yourself. I will refrain from directly making the usual comparisons to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye because as you will hear below, Legend has an altogether different sound that makes these tracks far more modern with a little less formula.

Since I can't make a definite Top 5 for someone as good as Mr. Legend, I will give a top 5, in order, for each of his major label releases that are all equally worth purchasing.

Get Lifted

1. She Don't Have to Know
2. Let's Get Lifted
3. Used to Love U
4. Live it Up
5. I Can Change

Once Again
1. Another Again
2. Slow Dance
3. Each Day Gets Better
4. Save Room
5. Heaven

1. Take Me Away
2. Quickly
3. Everybody Knows
4. Green Light
5. This Time

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