Todd Rundgren said he did a whole bunch of work for Kanye West’s Donda, but as far as he knows, none of his contributions made the final cut.
Rundgren revealed his efforts in a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, saying he was brought into West’s fold via the rapper’s longtime collaborator, 88-Keys. Rundgren called 88-Keys a “terrific guy” and a “big fan of mine,” who wanted to see Rundgren and West work together. Rundgren said he was up to help out West in any way he could, adding, “I didn’t mind working on his gospel stuff. If you want to sing about Jesus, go ahead, I don’t care. I’ll help ya do it, you know? If you want to sing about your troubles with your wife, go ahead and do it. I don’t care.”
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Rundgren said he contributed off-and-on for about a year, ultimately amassing, as he put it, “three albums worth of Kanye stems on my computer.” But while Rundgren said he tried to make himself as available as possible, he ultimately grew frustrated with West’s creative process: “When it got into the homestretch in July, I just said, ‘That’s enough for me. I have no idea whether any of this is being used.’ You don’t get much feedback from him regarding what it is.”
He added: “If I can contribute something, fine. If I can’t, just let me know. I’m out of here… There is a possibility that I’m actually in there somewhere. There’s so much junk in that record!”
Along with his curt assessment of Donda, Rundgren said he realized West and his team were rushing the album, and ultimately putting out “what is obviously really raw, unprocessed stuff,” because West was trying to get his album out before Drake (in a since-deleted Instagram post upon Donda’s arrival, West claimed his label, Universal, put the record out without his approval).
“He was too afraid that Drake would one-up him, so he hurried up and released the album the weekend before Drake could get his out,” Rundgren quipped. “And in the end, Drake ate his lunch anyway.” (Indeed, after West set the bar with Donda, Drake easily cleared it to have the biggest album debut of 2021 with Certified Lover Boy.)
Summing up his experience, Rundgren referred to West not as a musician, but as “a shoe designer. … He’s just a dilettante at this point. Nobody would regularly make records like that unless they had stupid money to throw around. Nobody rents a stadium to make a record in. Nobody flies in the entire world of hip-hop just to croak one syllable, just so you can say that everybody was on it.”
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