This week, John Legend dropped his new video for “Who Do We Think We Are” featuring Rick Ross. Screen-shot-2013-05-06-at-11.01.28-PM

We spoke with John about his new video, how Rick Ross came to be on the track and more!

What was it like working with Rick Ross? How’d you come get him to do the track?

John Legend: Well, the track started with Bink.  He was the producer obviously and he’s based in Virginia, but he sent some tracks up to Kayne.  It was during the time when Kayne was working on “Watch the Throne” and he was working out of the Mercer Hotel with Jay-Z and a bunch of different producers coming up with the music for “Watch the Throne” and around that same time I was starting to create the foundation for what was going to be my album.  And Kayne was playing tracks for me that he had gotten from other producers that he thought might be good for me for the album. And he played this track from Bink and I started writing lyrics and melody to it and wrote the song that day. Then when he loved the song, felt like it could be something special eventually, he sent it off to Rick Ross to bless it with a verse.  We didn’t actually worked in the studio together, but I sent it to him and he did his thing sent it back and we all loved it and decided that this should be the first video we shot.  

Did you always have Rick in mind when you were putting the track together?  Or was it just something that organically happened?

John Legend: Well, first of all in the process we go through is when start you start to figure out, you write a bunch of song and once you start to say these are some of my favorites do we want any collaborations on any of them that would make them even better? This song always felt like a Rick Ross John Legend collaboration because we’ve done, you know a lot of tracks together. And they all have a certain feel to them.  Very soulful musical backdrop kind of that black elegance, black luxury vibe, that soulfulness-I felt like this “Who Do We Think We Are” would fit right into that motif.  And so I sent it to him and he loved it and he got on it and we felt like we had a hit on our hands.

You work with a lot of the top rappers in the world.  How do you feel about Rick and where do you think he ranks in that category?

John Legend: I think he’s one of the most important and seasoned in the game right now if you look at his influence on the culture and number of hits, you know the degree of influence he’s had…he’s obviously one of the most influential MCs in the business right now.

Now I watched the video a few times, very artistic per say.  How’d you guys come up with that concept and where did you draw your inspiration from?

John Legend: Well, you know we got contacts with lots of directors and that’s usually the process most people go through.  They send the song out to a few talented directors and like maybe five to ten that they think would come up with a good concept for it and you just look at all the different concepts and try to find the one that fits the feeling you want to put out there.  And the song kind of celebrates risk taking, it celebrates being in love, it celebrates not being  afraid to go out there and do your thing. And also kind of has the element of luxury and decadence in the song, too.  And so we wanted a video that captured that feeling, something sexy that was a little bit risky and definitely decadent and luxurious.

Has being in love affected your music?

John Legend: Oh, yeah I mean when you hear the album you definitely hear plenty of evidence that I’m in love (laughs) So that’s clear.  Some songs are more specifically about my own relationship, some are not, but the album is definitely really a lot about love and you hear that when you hear the whole album.

How does your new album differ from your previous records?

John Legend: I think this is where I am now. Musically, it’s not dramatically different from my previous record.  I think my fans who’ve been with me since the beginning will definitely hear a lot of things that you know, feel familiar, feel like me, but we definitely did you know push ourselves a little bit to not just make a rehashing of what we did before.  We continue to try to progress, try to evolve as artists and I worked with a lot of the same team Kayne and Dave Tozer some other people I worked with for years, but I also worked with a lot of new people as well. So I think it’s a good blend of who I ‘ve been with all these years and also some fresh energy from different young producers and co-writers I haven’t worked with before.

Speaking of how hard is it for an artist who has been out so long and is so accomplished to stay fresh and current and still evolve?

John Legend:  I think you have to open yourself to the right kind of collaboration to continue to push yourself because if you get kind of stuck in a creative rut you know, it can take away from that fresh energy that you need to stay relevant and stay on the edge of the art, you know.  And so I think, like I said before I think the way we created this album was a balance of working with people like Kayne who I’ve worked with over a decade now and then other people like Hit-Boy and other producers, who I haven’t produced with before, so that balance of me doing what I’ve always done and, but also freshening it up with some new energy and talent.

Speaking of you worked with Kayne West for ten years and you guys just put out the joint G.O.O.D. Music album.  Can we expect another G.O.O.D. Music album coming soon?  

John Legend: Well you know there’s been talk of a “Cruel Winter” Album and I don’t know, obliviously Kayne is focused on putting his own album out right now and you know there’s always so much that could come from the crew at any given time we’ll let the music out when it’s ready to be out there, but for now he’s focused on his project and mine, and I don’t know what else he’s doing, but I think that’s plenty in addition to having a baby on the way!

You’ve worked with so many different people, has anybody left you to want to collaborate with or need to collaborate with?  

John Legend: No, there’s definitely no need.  It’s just a matter of the right time, the right place, the right song and you know, those things happened organically usually, you don’t have to force them so I don’t overthink who do I want to work with, it’d be great to work with this or that person sure, but at the end of the day it just has to be the right song at the right time, the right person.

What’s your favorite summer R&B track?

John Legend: Some classics, Marvin Gaye “About to Give it Up” that always feels like summer to me.

Let’s go through your catalog, give me some John Legend tracks that are perfect for summer?

John Legend: I think, “Used to Love U” is great for the summer, I think “Save Room” is great for the summer.  And for a lazy summer day, a lot of my second album could be like a lazy summer day.  It depends on what you’re going for, you know.  I think a lot of the new album is actually going to be perfect for summer.  We did so many soulful things that feel like good, like backyard kind of bbq music.

O: What are you listening to other artist’s wise?  Whose hot in your i-pod?  

John Legend: Not a lot, you know I really don’t listen to that much when I’m finishing my own album.  It’s interesting, I don’t know what it is.  A lot of my listening time ends up being my own stuff trying to make sure it’s exactly were I want it to be.  And also I just don’t want to get overly concerned with what anybody new is doing you know, and so I don’t let that get in my head too much.  Like I’ll check out different albums and say that’s pretty good, but I won’t live in it that long because I don’t want it to be too much in my head when I’m writing my own stuff because I want my stuff to sound like me and not like somebody else.  So I kind of make a conscious effect not to over listen to anybody else when I’m finishing my own project.  Yeah, I may listen to more classic stuff, but when it comes to new stuff I don’t want a bunch of Frank Ocean in my head or Miguel in my head even though I love both of them and I think their albums are both dope I just don’t want to live in it too much so it doesn’t send me there creatively in a way that sounds like I’m trying to bite off of anybody.  I rather not live in anybody’s album too much, while I’m in the middle of creating something.

Where do you see John Legend in the next ten 10 years of your chapter?  

John Legend:  Well, I see I’m obviously getting married and we’ll probably have some kids and you know, do that whole family thing which is important and musically, I just want to keep making good music and to continue to put out great albums and go out there and entertain people, this is what I do best and I want to keep on doing that forever.  Obviously, I have some other things, I have some businesses that I have invested in and been involved in.  I have a production company in TV and Film and got some other things going on and all those things are important to me and I care about them.  There’s nothing more important to me than my career than making music.

So you brought up your production company.  Let’s talk about your new shows you’re producing?

John Legend: So we have a two shows that we’re developing with HBO.  One is called “How to be Black” and then one is called “Down Low” and we have a show with USA, we have a couple film projects possibilities right now, so we have a few things that are early, none of them is in a stage where they’re like a TV series yet or a funded film project yet so everything’s pretty early in development, so it’s hard to really to discuss them much more then they’re just kind of ideas that are starting out and we’ll see if they make it to the light of day, but we’re definitely in development and we’re seeking all these great writers to work with and people with great ideas and we have the connections and the taste level and the influence to try to help bring the shows and the films to life.