John Legend Explains His Personal Connection To 12 Years A Slave

The new film 12 Years A Slave just opened in limited release and is already among the frontrunners for the 2014 Academy Awards. The powerful tale about America’s dark history with slavery wowed at film festivals this fall, and John Legend agrees. “It’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen,” he told VH1 News recently, who was inspired to write the score for the movie after seeing an early version of it.

“I had a personal connection [to the movie],” he explains, “because I am a descendent of slaves. In the film, a character gets kidnapped from freedom in the north to slavery in the south and then eventually wins their freedom back, and that actually happened to someone in my family. I just found out about it when I did the show Finding Your Roots on PBS with Henry Louis Gates.”

As VH1 News also found out, Legend’s maturity has also changed the way he approaches music in general, which is evidenced on his new album Love In The Future. “I think soul music is more romantic now,” the newly married singer admits. “I think part of the tradition of hip hop is to be kind of more macho and and I certainly understand that, but as I have gotten older, misogyny bothers me more than it used to. I’m a bit more turned off by it when I hear it, and I think it’s a lazy way of writing, as well. I think you can be really creative and tell better stories without sounding like a complete a**hole.”