John Legend and Kanye West got booed off each other’s stages in the early 2000s

Producer 9th Wonder recalls seeing both stars struggle before their mainstream breakthroughs.

December 31, 2017

In a new series of tweets, producer 9th Wonder has shared an anecdote about meeting Kanye West before his mainstream breakthrough back in 2003. West played 9th Wonder demos from the album that would become The College Dropout, but noted that "several labels had turned [them] down" already. Later that year, 9th Wonder watched West perform at the Billboard R&B and Hip-Hop Awards, only to be booed off the stage. "Ye performed ONE song, 'Through The Wire' crickets," 9th Wonder wrote. "No one clapped, no one cheered.....even the dude running the music and video cut Ye’s backdrop short....Ye lost it."


9th Wonder also had the chance to see John Legend get booed offstage when he was opening for West in the spring of 2004. "His opening act was a singer/songwriter who played piano," the producer remembered. "During his performance, the singer/songwriter asked could he perform one more song called 'Ordinary People,' people yelled 'NO! We want Kanye.'"

Legend had a similar story in reverse: Around the same time, West opened for him at SOB's in New York and got booed by people who thought he was just "a semi-known producer who was trying to rap," Legend said. "He opened for me and people were like 'we want John!'"

"Outside of the tastemakers, people don’t listen to music. They watch, and they need qualifiers," 9th Wonder tweeted. "I saw Kanye and @johnlegend perform 'Through The Wire' and 'Ordinary People' and get booed. People have no clue, fam."

Thumbnail image via Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

John Legend and Kanye West got booed off each other’s stages in the early 2000s