Dope

Album: Legend (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • The word "dope" started showing up in rap songs in the '80s as a term of endearment, and it's been used a lot longer as slang for drugs. In this song, John Legend is head over heels for a girl who's so dope in the endearing sense, he wants to be her "dope fiend." The song was released as a single from his eighth album, Legend.
  • The rapper JID takes a verse, playing to the "love as a drug" theme. He compares the girl to Percocet and opium, saying she's "the potent medication prescribed by the prettiest of ladies."

    Legend got him on board because he's a big fan. "He's such a gifted lyricist," Legend told Apple Music. "He's got such great charisma and great energy and we were looking for the perfect artist to join with me on this record. We were just listening to his body of work and thinking of what we could do on the track. We sent it to him and he loved the track and wanted to get on it and man - he murdered it."
  • Legend wrote the song with Charlie Puth, Ryan Tedder, Ian Kirkpatrick and JID (Destin Route). Tedder and Kirkpatrick produced it.

    Puth and Tedder both contributed to Legend's previous album, Bigger Love, with Puth working on "I Do" and Tedder on the title track. Puth is one of Legend's favorite co-writers; they have the same management and live near each other. "When we get in a room together, we just make magic," he said.
  • The song has a Pharrell Williams vibe, which is intentional. Working at the Village Studios in Los Angeles, Charlie Puth started playing some chords that reminded them of Pharrell, and soon after, Pharrell called Ryan Tedder, who took that call and explained that he was sitting there with Puth and John Legend working on a song with some Pharrell flavor. They took it as a sign that they were headed in the right direction.

    Legend then came up a vocal melody by mumbling nonsense lyrics, and as the song took shape, he added actual lyrics. "Coming up with the concept for 'Dope' was an important moment," he said in a "making of" video. "We had been fooling around, singing different melodies, not knowing where the song was going to go, then it hit me. I started thinking about what we could do with the idea around dope: dope fiend, dope queen, all that stuff started coming to me. The idea is that the woman you're pursuing is so exciting and so thrilling, you could see yourself getting addicted to her."
  • The music video has the vibe of a '70s houseparty, complete with wallpaper and doorway beads. It was directed by Christian Breslauer, whose credits include "Industry Baby" by Lil Nas X and "About Damn Time" by Lizzo.
  • Legend debuted "Dope" by performing it with Charlie Puth at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, March 22, 2022. Both singers played grand pianos on stage.

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