After a series of delays, Kanye West’s DONDA finally arrived last month, just days before Drake’s Certified Lover Boy.
But the timing was no coincidence. Producer Todd Rundgren, who took part in the recording sessions for Kanye’s 10th album, claims that “Drake was running the whole process” and forced Kanye’s hand.
“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 told Ultimate Classic Rock. “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.”
Drake announced the Sept. 3 release date for CLB on Aug. 27. Two days later, Kanye dropped DONDA on a Sunday following his listening event in Chicago.
Upon DONDA‘s release on Aug. 29, Kanye claimed that his label, Universal Music Group, released the album without his approval. “UNIVERSAL PUT MY ALBUM OUT WITHOUT MY APPROVAL AND THEY BLOCKED JAIL 2 FROM BEING ON THE ALBUM,” he wrote, referring to his collaboration with DaBaby, which was later released to streaming services.
During the interview, Rundgren also recalled Kanye’s chaotic creative process. “I’m one of the few artists not on Kanye’s album,” said the soon-to-be Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. “I have three albums worth of Kanye stems on my computer. 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.”
Rundgren, who was brought in to work on DONDA by producer 88-Keys, went on to call Kanye a “shoe designer” and a “dilettante.” “Nobody would regularly make records like that unless they had stupid money to throw around,” he added. “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.”
DONDA opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 309,000 equivalent album units before being dethroned a week later by Drake’s Certified Lover Boy, which sold 613,000 units and earned the biggest week in over a year.