Kanye West’s new album Donda has way too many guest features to keep track of — and that’s not even including the material he left on the cutting room floor. Apparently one of the collaborators was Todd Rundgren. In a new interview, the classic rock legend revealed that he thinks West is a “dilettante” because he was left in the dark after making dozens of stems for the album that went unused.
When speaking with Ultimate Classic Rock, Rundgren explained how the scenario happened in the first place. Apparently West’s longtime collaborator 88-Keys was a “big fan” of Rundgren and wanted to see what the two creative geniuses could make together. Despite all of the controversial headlines about West over the years, Rundgren was down to give it a try, as he loves nothing more than pushing himself to think outside of the box musically.
“I didn’t mind working on his gospel stuff,” Rundgren told UCR. “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.”
Over the course of a year, Rundgren drafted numerous beats, hooks, and ideas for West, ultimately amassing “three albums’ worth of Kanye stems on my computer.” But the longer he waited around to hear from West about Donda, the more annoyed Rundgren got, as West’s infamously scatterbrained creative process left him frustrated and in the dark. Turns out West isn’t the life of the party he pretends he is.
“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,” said Rundgren. “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!”
Rumor had it the reason West was in such a hurry to finish Donda was solely to put his album out before Drake dropped Certified Lover Boy. Rundgren believes that’s the reason why Donda was “obviously really raw, unprocessed stuff” instead of a polished product. “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,” laughed Rundgren. “And in the end, Drake ate his lunch anyway.” The rapper had plenty of beef to munch on, too.
Over the past few decades, Rundgren has worked with some of the biggest names in music and enjoys collaborating with artists outside of his wheelhouse. So his final statement on what it was like to work with the billionaire shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt. “[West is] a shoe designer… He’s just a dilettante at this point,” said Rundgren. “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.”
Arguably the funniest part of all of this is that Rundgren has far bigger things on his mind lately. He’s gearing up to go on a special tour celebrating his 1973 album A Wizard, a True Star and, next month, he will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — although he plans on ditching the induction ceremony to hang out with fans instead.