Todd Rundgren: "I have three albums' worth of Kanye stems on my computer"

Todd Rundgren
(Image credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Kanye West's Donda features a lot of contributors, and Todd Rundgren might be one of them… but he's struggling to tell after listening to the finished album. The producer / musician has confirmed to Ultimate Classic Rock in a new interview that he certainly sent a lot of ideas Kanye's way, but soon became tired of the hip-hop luminary's creative process.

"I have three albums worth of Kanye stems on my computer" the Meat Loaf, New York Dolls, Patti Smith and XTC producer confirms. "Because I kept getting called by Kanye to add vocals onto the record. 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."

I’m still a producer, and I don’t just want to be like driftwood in the process.

Rundgren's involvement in Donda came about via producer 88-Keys - "He's a big fan of mine and wanted to see us work together" - and he entered the project full of enthusiasm. "I didn’t mind working on his gospel stuff," says Rundgren. "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."

But issues of communication and timescale on the project soon soured the experience for him.  "I’m still a producer, and I don’t just want to be like driftwood in the process," he says. "If I can contribute something, fine. If I can’t, just let me know. I’m out of here."

He was too afraid that Drake would one-up him.

Rundgren is also one of the observers who believes West rushed the final stages of the album in order to release it at the same time as rival Drake with his new album Certified Lover Boy.

"My involvement went on for a year," he adds, "and in the end I realised why they hurriedly wrapped the whole thing up and put out what is obviously really raw, unprocessed stuff. It’s because Drake was running the whole process. 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. And in the end, Drake ate his lunch anyway."

He's just a dilettante at this point.

What Rundgren did contribute may have been used, but even after hearing the finished article he can't be sure…  

"There is a possibility that I’m actually in there somewhere. There’s so much junk in that record!"

Ultimately, Rundgren was left with an interesting perspective on West; "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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Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.   

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