Drake was the driving force behind Kanye West’s Donda release plans, according to rock legend Todd Rundgren.
In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Rundgren detailed his involvement in the making of Kanye West’s Donda album. When explaining why he didn’t appear on the final version of the LP, the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee revealed how much Drake’s moves were influencing Kanye’s decisions.
“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,” Rundgren explained. “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.”
The Utopia founder was recruited by 88-Keys, who co-produced multiple tracks on Donda, to work with Kanye. Rundgren noted he did extensive work for the project but eventually became disillusioned with the creative process.
“I have three albums worth of Kanye stems on my computer,” he told UCR. “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.”
It was a frustrating experience for Rundgren, who felt like his time was being wasted. He also came away from the sessions with a blunt assessment of Kanye as an artist.
“He’s just a dilettante at this point,” he stated. “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.”
Kanye’s Donda was released on August 21 after numerous delays. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 but was dethroned a week later by Drake’s Certified Lover Boy. Drake’s album also outsold Kanye’s LP and set the record for most first-week sales in 2021.