John Legend Talks The Timing Of Rick Ross Collab ‘Who Do You Think We Are’ And Rapper’s Date Rape Lyrics Controversy

Billy Johnson, Jr.
Hip-Hop Media Training (NEW)

Damn you Rick Ross!

John Legend is setting up the release of his fourth solo album, “Love In The Future.” He has a great debut single, “Who Do We Think We Are,” another one of his throwback modernized instant soul classics. And he’s featuring guest vocals from one of his best hip-hop R&B collab buddies Rick Ross.

But their marketing campaign is met with an issue – Ross is in the midst of a media firestorm for a reference to date rape he made on Rocko’s mixtape track “U.O.E.N.O.”

This puts Legend’s song in an awkward position.

“I don’t know what the impact will be,” Legend offers candidly during a telephone interview with Yahoo! Music.

Without any further prodding, Legend confronts the issue that has since resulted in Reebok dropping Ross as a spokersperson. Legend makes it clear that it is not acceptable for any artist to trivialize rape.

“I don’t think any MC, any artist should in any way encourage rape in their lyrics or even make light of it, even if they are not explicitly encouraging it,” he says. “They shouldn’t do it, and people have a right to respond when they hear a lyric they don’t like.”

Legend understands that hip-hop tackles many controversial messages that are too extreme for some. But he believes that the timing of Ross’s rap about slipping the drug Molly into a woman’s drink and then taking advantage of her sexually caused the matter to escalate.

“Right now the subject of rape has been in the public discussion a lot,” he says. “You got politicians talking about it, you have the Steubenville case, you have all these things happening.”

Legend believes that an outcry was inevitable. “People are so sensitive about the issue of rape right now,” he says. “You make light of it in a song, you can expect a backlash.”

The nine-time Grammy Award winner, who says that he would never feature a song on his album that would encourage rape, adds that he won’t turn his back on Ross, with whom he has recorded hits “Magnificent” and “Rich Forever.”

“I’m very proud of the work that Rick and I have done together. He’s still my friend, and I still respect him,” he says. “I think him apologizing was the right thing to do, and hopefully we can move forward, and hopefully nobody else will rap about rape or make light of rape in the future. It’s something that every rapper should avoid.”

Legend notes that making music about having sex with someone against his or her will sheds light on an even bigger issue – the criminal act. “But more importantly,” he interjects, “nobody should rape anybody in the future. Like, that is the most critical thing, then taking responsibility for the action and don’t ever put a woman in a situation where she’s having sex without her consent.”

Ross’s drama aside, his latest song with Legend has a solid message with a double meaning. From a romantic perspective, “Who Do We Think We Are” celebrates a couple that is enjoying life and taking risks without fear. But Legend also wants the song to motivate everyone to “go out there and do it.”

Hopefully, this song won’t get lost in the whoola.

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