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Leon Bridges: "Listening to Kendrick Lamar Challenges Me to be a Better Writer"

The soul savant also talks about his admiration for Miguel and Usher.

In a recent interview with Complex, Leon Bridges talked about how his career started, where his sound originates from, as well as his influences. During the conversation, Leon listed Kendrick Lamar as one of his biggest inspirations. Although he’s far from a rapper and is influenced by a large variety of artists before him, he feels that listening to Kendrick Lamar inspires him to be a better writer. He also talks about his admiration for Miguel and Usher, and how his favorite song from the latter is “U Got It Bad.” Check out a few highlights below and read the full interview here. For more on modern traditional soul, check out our recent feature highlighting our favorite artists from the genre.

Have you ever been star struck after meeting a celebrity?
Meeting Miguel totally threw me off. He’s one of the reasons I picked up a guitar. It was encouraging to see a black man doing it, kind of doing something off the path, off the norm.

Who else inspires you?
Anything, any type of music is something that I can be inspired by. It doesn’t mean it has to be old. But if you wanna talk about classic, I love Bobby Womack and Neil Young. But I’m also inspired by hip-hop. Listening to Kendrick Lamar challenges me to be a better writer. I like to pull inspiration from different places.

Where does your sound come from?
I listened to a lot of R&B growing up. It wasn’t even necessarily traditional soul music—from Ginuwine to Usher. That really built my foundation. It’s a blend of that, folk, and soul. I really don’t know how to explain it. It’s an accumulation of different things I’ve listened to my whole life.

What’s your favorite Usher song?
Definitely “U Got It Bad.” I always had a crush on Chilli.

It’s funny because apparently, Chilli thought one of the songs on Confessions was about her and got upset.
My girlfriend did the same thing to me. There’s a song called “Pull Away” on Coming Home. When the album came out she was like, “I thought ['Pull Away'] was about me and I was pissed off.” I was like, “No, no it wasn’t.” [Laughs]

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