For John Stephens, mellifluous soul charmer, Kanye West protege and self-proclaimed Legend, the term "difficult second album" is especially meaningful. His debut, Get Lifted, was nominated for eight Grammys and won three, putting Once Again in the position of having to match its success or be considered a turkey. There's no reason it shouldn't match it, though - unless his voice ends up on a list of banned substances because of its high-calorie creaminess.
Get Lifted netted John Legend a major hit ("Ordinary People") that will be heard on adult contemporary stations and throwback-oriented programs as long as they exist, platinum status, and three Grammy titles -- including the potential kiss of death that is Best New Artist. If Legend hadn't linked up with Kanye West or any other connected industry figure, he'd probably be well into a string of independent albums and would likely have a fanatical cult following through persistent touring. It doesn't take much exposure to his songs to sense this alternate scenario.