Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Word Of Todd


Maybe you've read this on one of the many number of sites it has appeared, but if not, here it is. As you may have gleaned from years of reading this blog, I happen to be a fan of Todd Rundgren. You may have also picked up on the fact that though I am a fan, I rarely give Rundgren a free pass.  But I found this very satisfying.


Ahead of his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next month, Todd Rundgren is airing it all out. He won’t attend the induction ceremony, despite performing a show the same night a few hours away. And now he’s detailed his frustrations over working with Kanye West on "Donda."

“I’m one of the few artists not on Kanye’s album,” Rundgren said in a recent interview with Ultimate Classic Rock.  “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 said that he was invited into the fold by the producer 88-Keys, but that he quickly grew disillusioned with it all. “I’m still a producer, and I don’t just want to be like driftwood in the process,” he said. “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!”

He went on to call West “a shoe designer.” “He’s just a dilettante at this point. Nobody would regularly make records like that unless they had stupid money to throw around,” Rundgren said. “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.” He continued:

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."



Jobe said...

Drake, Kanye, who cares

Sal Nunziato said...

Well, I sure don't.

Jeremy said...

"He is a shoe designer" The best anti-Kanye, anti-rap smack down ever!!! God bless Todd!! Oh jeez that rhymes, I should record it in a stadium....

Shriner said...

Did Todd turn down other work to be on this? Was he paid? If the answers were "no" and "yes" that should be enough whether or not his vocals were used.

Seems like a pointless "old man yells at cloud" rant to me. (And I'm not the target audience of either Drake or Kanye.)

Jobe said...

You know it's the kind of thing you would expect of McCartney to collaborate with the likes of Rihanna, Kanye even though I think die-hard rock fans were appalled (get it...appalled...never mind) People like Rihanna, Kanye, Drake, Jay-Z been putting nails in the coffin of music for so long. You no longer even need musicians anymore to create their great new masterpieces. But Todd? Regardless of his output, of which there is much, some good some bad I always thought he's maintained a certain amount of integrity. But to read he would be associated with non-musicians, non-talent idiots makes me sad. Jeez the only thing worse would have been if he'd had endorsed Kanye for president. What is he thinking? He surely can rest on his past laurels where he doesn't need to think that he must stay relevant. Anyway there's your "old man yells at clouds" rant

Sal Nunziato said...

To paraphrase Todd, his core audience is dying off. There are no labels looking to put out Philly soul records, or prog pop records. The interest that current artists like Tame Impala, Trent Reznor, Dam Funk, etc. have taken in Todd's records has given him new life and so he collaborates, peppers his brand of pop with techno, EDM,and rap. I am not defending him. His EDM and rap records are terrible. I am just saying, it's far deeper than just a cash out.

Todd once referred to Public Enemy's "Fear Of A Black Planet" as the "Sgt.Pepper of hip hop." I don't disagree. I do think the names mentioned by Jobe--Kanye, Drake, and Jay-Z, and I'd add anyone involved with "WAP" are doing exactly what Jobe said, putting the nails in the coffin of music. But I also happen to truly love Public Enemy, De La Soul, Beastie Boys, Eric B & Rakim and a number of other classic rap that offered some real creativity not seen in today's cRAP.

I have a friend who is a few years older than I am, who is a great musician, loves the same music, as I do, and considers Rundgren a musical hero. This friend hears something in Kanye's records that I just do not. So maybe Rundgren hears the same thing. Who knows?

I don't believe Todd's Kanye rant to be "old man yells at clouds." I think he was probably genuinely interested in the project but hates the bullshit, something he's been preaching for his entire career.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Certainly Todd. What I don’t understand is why having the chance to say no, they go against common sense and, because they are not in the final cut, they throw all this Drake nonsense. Sad. Btw, I gave Kanye’s new LP a tried and it is more interesting than Global from Todd. IMAO.


Sal Nunziato said...

"and it is more interesting than Global from Todd."

What isn't?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Todd’s contribution to Donda. Based on Kanye’s final decision.

Jobe said...

In the linear notes to that great new masterpiece Donda "No musical instruments were used in the making of this album" I guess I'm just pissed that my Louvin Brothers post didn't set the world on fire.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I don't think Kanye is interesting. I like Todd. That's about it for me.

cmealha said...

My son sent me this yesterday. Kanye was it for him growing up. He was his Beatles. After the last few outings, even he's admitted to that Kanye's lost whatever he had that made him so popular. I think the death of his mother really screwed him up and it's affected him.

Listening to "Initiation" as I write this, so there is no question as to which side of the fence I'm on with this one.

cmealha said...

"and it is more interesting than Global from Todd."

How dare you?!!!! ;-)

jonder said...

Nobody's putting nails in the coffin of music. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not music. We forget that when we were young, older generations thought our favorite music was just noise, and that it was a fad that wouldn't last.

I don't keep up with the young rappers, but I wouldn't dismiss them completely. I'd rather listen to Fear Of A Black Planet (or The Low End Theory, Follow The Leader, Blowout Comb, or Done By The Forces Of Nature), but all those records are 30 years old now. I like Czarface, but they are a throwback to Golden Age hip hop.

Kanye, Drake, and Jay-Z have talent, and they have an ear for talent. All of them have given platforms to both young artists and older ones (like Todd, Elton John, Hall & Oates). They're more open-minded than we are. Rivalries like Kanye vs Drake are nothing new in popular music. It's just Beatles vs Stones or Oasis vs Blur all over again.

Having said all that, I heard the new Drake song that incorporates "I'm Too Sexy" and hated it as much as I hate the original!

Sal Nunziato said...

"Nobody's putting nails in the coffin of music. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not music."

If you are being very loose with the definition of "music," than I agree. I imagine Ornette's "Free Jazz" isn't considered music to some, while it happens to be a favorite of mine. But as I said many times here before and probably many more to come, no one will EVER convince me that "our" noise from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's, or even the noise of artists from the 90's, was even remotely as offensive, lazy and non-musical as today's hip hop or what is considered pop. And if one more person says "Get off my lawn," I'm going to really lose it. Age has nothing to do with it.

jonder said...

Agree to disagree, Sal. My mom loved Elvis. Her parents thought he was crude, talentless, and scandalous. My father's parents loved Dixieland and Big Band. Their parents thought it was unlistenable noise. Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring" allegedly caused a riot at its premiere in 1913, and it was called puerile and barbaric.

I think it DOES have something to do with age. Young people crave novelty and thrills, and they are attracted to the forbidden. One of the developmental tasks of young adulthood (as described by Erik Erickson) is to differentiate oneself from one's parents and to rebel against the norms of their generation. That might mean The Who, The Clash, Slayer, or XXXTentacion.

I truly dislike the cartoonish sexuality of Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, etc. But I think it's part of a tradition that dates back to songs that were compiled on records like "Copulation Blues" and "Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads". It just takes more to titillate and scandalize these days. 2 Live Crew was widely banned in 1989-1990; today it seems tame (but still crude).

When I was a teen, I thought that nothing could ever be more offensive or abrasive than SPK, Whitehouse, or Throbbing Gristle. But along came Cannibal Corpse, Anal Cunt, and Gravediggaz.

Coincidentally, I ran across this article by Iggy Pop on finding new music:

Sal Nunziato said...

I don't disagree with any of what you've written. All fine and true examples. When I said it has nothing to do with age, I was referring to ME! I am not crying get off my lawn because I think hip hop is crap. I think today's hip hop is crap. I don't dislike pop music because I'm too old. I dislike autotuned crap, with generic beats and synthetic sounds. "Get Ur Freak On" is like "Rhapsody In Blue" compared to "WAP."

People stopped making records. Your grandparents thinking Elvis was crude doesn't change history or the hours spent in the studio with Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana. My argument isn't about today's teens disliking Elvis or The Beatles, it's about the levels of crap that get free passes as music and art. Artists BOAST about not using musical intruments! WTF?

Sal Nunziato said...

I read that Iggy article after I posted my last comment. He's talking about people like me!

Great article. I love Iggy, but saying, "If I hear anyone say: “Things aren’t as good as they used to be,” I tell them to listen to the Moses Boyd remix of Pace by Nubya Garcia" means about as much as me saying, "Things aren't as good as they used to be."

jonder said...

I hear you, Sal. I'm not talking about changing history, or young folks disliking Elvis or the Beatles. I used Elvis as an example of older generations being close-minded toward young people's music. My grandparents weren't willing to acknowledge that Scotty Moore was an amazing guitarist, or that Elvis had a great voice. They thought "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah" was inane.

My only issue is with blanket statements. "Today's hip hop is crap"? Not all of it. "People stopped making records"? Maybe some did. There's always been crap on the radio, and poorly-crafted music the top of the charts.

In my defense, I did not use the phrases "Get off my lawn," "old man yells at cloud," or "OK boomer" in this discussion. And I thank you for offering a forum for discussion.

I think (and I suspect you agree) that "Get Ur Freak On" and other Timbaland productions like "Are U That Somebody" and "Work It" were as groundbreaking as the Bomb Squad. Some of them also contained crude sexual come-ons.

Sal Nunziato said...

No Jonder, you did not use those terms. I recognize that. But I did say "I think today's hip hop is crap" not "Today's hip hop is crap." There's a difference, of course.

Michael Giltz said...

1. WAP? What the hell is WAP? Had to look it up, not because I hadn't briefly given it a listen but because with digital I almost never see artist names and song titles anymore. It's a problem.

2. cRAP is very very funny. Did you make it up, Sal?

3. Todd Rundgren saying, Sure, I'll collaborate is cool. He's not cashing a check. He's remaining open to possibilities. However, I wish he chose to go to the Hall of Fame ceremony cause it's cool and he's loved and would feel how appreciated he is by his peers. But he'll be fine on his own!

4. Yes, each generations rejects the music of their kids. Yes, good stuff is still being created. I think a major, major difference now is the vast accessibility of all music -- especially new music -- AND the AMOUNT of new music being created. I could release an album and put it on Spotify. There is so much new music and it's so easy to sample that I think it's overwhelming. 90% of everything is crap (books, movies, operas, tv shows etc) it's just that now there is so much MORE crap that it seems like things are worse than they actually. The gatekeepers of radio and record labels just don't matter and I can play a track by any new act I hear mentioned briefly in two seconds. In the old days, I'd have to actually ponder whether it was worth spending X amount of dollars for a cassette or CD and thus avoid a LOT of crap.

Just a thought.

Sal Nunziato said...

To Michael Giltz' point #4--