Kanye West album releases are such forces of nature that even when the project is finally, mercifully, officially out, the rollout still leaves wreckage and fallout in its wake. With Donda— his tenth studio album, which dropped on August 29th after a month-plus of listening sessions, tweaks, and controversies—the running theme of the aftermath seems to be collaboration discontent. It’s inevitable really—you can’t call half of the music industry, hip-hop and beyond, unceremoniously add and drop features on a whim, and not expect to sour a few working relationships. (It’s especially glaring when editing doesn’t seem to be the issue — the album clocks in at 27 songs and the length of a Christopher Nolan movie.) Chris Brown and Soulja Boy were among the most vocal, blasting Kanye on social media for removing (or in Brown’s case, trimming) their contributions to “New Again” and “Remote Control” respectively.
The latest artist to show his public disapproval of the Yeezy Method is something of a curveball: legendary singer/producer Todd Rundgren, who has been an instrumental figure in music for over half a century now, working with everyone from Meat Loaf to the Isley Bros. In a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Rundgren said he has “about three albums worth of Kanye stems on my computer” after sending Kanye material for the better part of a year.
Rundgren grew disillusioned as he began to feel left out of the collaborative process, and it became unclear whether any of his contributions were ever going to be used. “I didn’t mind working on his gospel stuff. If you want to sing about Jesus, go ahead, I don’t care. If you want to sing about your troubles with your wife, go ahead and do it,” Rundgren explained. “I’m still a producer, and I don’t just want to be like driftwood in the process. If I can contribute something, fine. If I can’t, just let me know. There is a possibility that I’m actually in there somewhere. There’s so much junk in that record!”
Rundgren then went on to claim Kanye got too wrapped up in a competition/beef with Drake, which is the reason Rundgren (like the rest of us, honestly) believes Kanye rushed the final release. “My involvement went on for a year, and in the end I realized 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.”
Yikes. We’ve come a long way from Lou Reed’s glowing Yeezus dissertation. Hopefully Kanye and Rundgren can work it out; one imagines they could make some truly great music together. Or Rundgren can do like Chris Brown and Soulja did, and leak his collaborations.