ZZ Ward Discusses Rap Influence, Claims "Kendrick Lamar Is Going To Save Hip Hop"

Exclusive: ZZ Ward speaks about working with DJ Premier, Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs and gives insight into how her mixtape "Eleven Roses" and "Til The Casket Drops" album came about.

Through many of her Hip Hop collaborations, you may have seen or heard a catchy song by a girl in a stylish hat. Internet-turned-television sensation ZZ Ward the past few months with her singles Put The Gun Down and Til the Casket Drops. After further research the listener will be able to find several videos of the Hollywood Records artist speaking about Hip Hop influences and even performances with her and DJ Premier, Freddie Gibbs and Kendrick Lamar

Ms. Ward seamlessly from blues to Hip Hop and incorporates both elements effectively. ZZ is not your typical Pop hopeful, and she spoke with HipHopDX about some of the stamps in her musical passport.

HipHopDX: When did you start to be fully engaged in Hip Hop and what were you listening to growing up?

ZZ Ward: We all have certain people in our lives that influence us. Mine was my older brother and he really got me into Nas and Jay-Z. He wouldn’t let me listen to their albums so that just made it more enticing for me. When he wasn’t looking I would listen to them. He definitely got me into Hip Hop.

DX: In regards to your mix tape [Eleven Roses] how did you pick the songs you wanted to cover on there?

ZZ Ward: Well that project came about in an interesting way. I was writing songs for my record and the first song I ended up writing was over Tyler, The Creator's "Yonkers." I started singing some melodies to his chorus and singing lyrics that I like. That helped me free my mind from my own record. Choosing the songs to write over, it was just stuff that I was listening to at the time.

DX: Did you get any surprise backlash or shoutouts from the rappers you covered?

ZZ Ward: Not specifically. Obviously it’s a risky thing to do because doing a mixtape is not something typical that a singer-songwriter does over Hip Hop songs. It’s not conventional the way that I did it. One of the things that came out of it was that I ended up meeting Blended Babies and worked on a lot of my record with them. 

DX: You have a lot of elements of a rapper without actually rapping. Was it a natural progression to make Hip Hop a solid sound on the album or did you decide out of the blue to incorporate Hip Hop instead of doing a traditional pop record?

ZZ Ward: I think that at least for me, I want to do music that feels good. If I did not have Hip Hop beats in my music, I don’t think I would feel satisfied with it. One of the songs I worked with Mike Elizondo on was "Put The Gun Down." He loved my music, my artistry and the song. That kind of started the record and we ended up working on over half of my record together. You don’t necessarily plan it but you have to like what you are doing. You can’t think about what other people would think.

DX: Did you have a hesitation about going with Hollywood Records because of their Disney background?

ZZ Ward: I don’t think I thought of that very much before I started to work with them. I don’t really look at the relationship so much as what Hollywood or what Disney is. I look at the people there. The people that was passionate about me and my music. That is why we ended up working together. I never felt they were going to try and make me something that I wasn’t or bullshit me. I felt like they were going to support me and help me do what I wanted to do with my music. 

DX: How did you and DJ Premier initially link up and is there something you can tell us that we may be surprised about him?

ZZ Ward: That was actually my first time in New York City and we decided to go in the studio together and do some songs. It was really exciting because I grew up listening to him. The thing about [DJ] Premier is that to be where he is and have everything under your belt that he is done, he is still so humble. We met at South By Southwest last year and he was doing the Nas concert with Pete Rock. I went backstage to hang out with them and they were giving me tips on performing and touring. He is definitely a mentor for me.

DX: Is DJ Premier on your album at all?

ZZ Ward: We didn’t end up doing something on the record but we do have some music.

DX: You have Ali Shaheed Muhammad on your record which is unbelievable. What did he bring to "Charlie Ain’t Home" that brought out the song?

ZZ Ward: The great thing about [Ali Shaheed Muhammad] is that he brought his own technique and flavor to "Charlie Ain't Home." It was the perfect mix.  It did not feel like he was trying to be overly sexy because it is a very sexy song. When he goes into the chorus his drum and bass line takes it somewhere else.

DX: Is there anything about Hip Hop that you don’t like or that you think should change?

ZZ Ward: I wouldn’t say there is anything that I don’t like. I would say that I love how Kendrick Lamar is going to save Hip Hop. He is a storyteller and I love how he can paint a picture for people and what is going on in his mind so I definitely love that about Hip Hop. 

DX: You collaborated with Ryan Tedder from One Republic. What is the difference in studio sessions with artists like that and the Hip Hop artists you worked with? 

ZZ Ward: I wouldn’t say that Hip Hop producers are different than other producers. I think that every artist and every producer are their own person and vibe.  Ryan Tedder is a musical genius. I am very driven and focused when working in a studio. Ryan [Tedder] didn’t want to change it from what it was and its simplicity. He wanted to support the song.

DX: Have you been approached a lot to do songs on rappers projects?  How deep in that arena would you go because it’s easy to by type casted as a hook girl?

ZZ Ward: Definitely, and you have to be picky with things and got to decide when a good time is to do something like that. To me, I love music and I want to do a hook on a song that I love. I heard the Asher Roth song ["Insurance"] and I just love that song and wanted to work on it. 

DX: Which other rappers would you want to work with?

ZZ Ward: Well I would love to do some more stuff with Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs. I also love what Azalea Banks is doing and I think she is absolutely incredible. I also think Tyler, The Creator is a genius. 

RELATED: ZZ Ward f. Kendrick Lamar - "Cryin' Wolf" [AUDIO]

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45 Comments

  • Anonymous

    let kendrick's voice and the rhythm of his bars carry the song not his over produced pop beats

  • Anonymous

    i think kendrick has the lryics but his beats are killing the craft keep his creativity on paper and throw on some classic boom bap

  • Anonymous

    cant be saved every kid the fans that arnt fans yet (0-10) are going to destroy it

  • Hip Hop President

    Bitch you betta leak/release them tracks which you did with DJ Premier and Pete Rock!!!!

  • wu wear

    Someone should play this bitch some Ghostface, Slick Rick, and Scarface if she wants to hear story telling...

  • X.O. Man-o-War

    well if ZZ Ward said it, it must be true..She's the voice of hip hop..And Officer Rick Ross is a drug kingpin who never lied about being a C.O..n Lil Wayne is straight and a lyrical genius

  • disdick

    Save hip hop? whatever check out The Underachievers just heard of them very good ulp and coming group if you ain't up on game check them out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_122Tx8xmg

  • G

    Hip Hop don't need saving. Thanks "ZZ" :S

  • Te

    Hip Hop doesn't need saving.

  • Malone

    People are too focused on these rapper characters... no.no...no!! I've got to get people believing in Malone again. . . . Sincerely Yours -Malone

  • aegebhdbh

    whats with all the hate.. i just found out about her and this her shit sounds dope as hell, def gunna check out her album. Guess HHDX is just full of dumb ass niggers tho

  • O dawg

    what this white bitch know about hip hop? im not saying she wrong but she the last person that need to say something about hip hop

  • SDK

    THIS IS NOT RIGHT, YESSIRRRRRR

  • SDK

    AND THIS IS THE KING KENDRICK LAMAR

  • YESSIR

    LMFAO WTF IS THAT WHITE CHICK TALKIN ABOUT..WAYNE AND DRIZZY ALREADY SAVED IT U DUMB BITCH...DX BE SLOPPY THIS TIME AROUND..

    • SDK

      YEAH SHES RIGHT MENTION NAS AND JAY,GREAT! REAL AND UNDISPUTED LEGENDS

    • Brickhouse

      What are you talking about YESSIR!!?! YOU ARE WHITE!! I know who you are!!! and like we talked about before, we respect Wayne and Drizzy too but there ain't NO story in their rhymes mang, they just saying words. K Dot and others are bring story telling back. And leave the girl alone you fat bitch, you know for a fact she wasn't dissing anyone. Your real name is Maggie, again, stop talking that SHIT Maggie and hating because you don't get no hugs.

    • LOLZ

      HA. That's exactly what she's talking about. Kendrick might not be THE ONE who "saves" (mainstream) hip hop, but seriously... WAYNE and DRIZZY? ugghhh. Talented on a level, yes, but their stuff is sooo tired. Do they even know who Biggie, Pac, and Nas are? Because from listening to their stuff, you wouldn't know it. And come on, trolls, mighty brave of you hiding behind an anonymous comment calling names and throwing out the race card.

    • Anonymous

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Wayne and Drake destroyed hip-hop, not saved it. She was right.

  • Anonymous

    I'm still kind of upset Freddie Gibbs did a track with her. It was decent though, atleast he was

  • Fuck ZZ Ward & Her Family

    Who the fuck is this cracker bitch???

    • suck my dick calvin vance

      FUCK CALVINVANCE13 AND HIS FAMILY..and fuck this white whore thinkin she knows hiphop dressin like a white girl from salt lake city

    • Fuck ZZ Ward & Her Family

      ^^ Seems like someone is butthurt. Admit it, she doesn't know shit about anything.

    • CalvinVance13

      Yo bitch! Quit being ignorant with your comments you stupid ass bigot! You don't come on here and say some stupid shit like that. insulting the girl and her family and shit and being racist. The girl made a bold statement but you don't know the context of the shit and she's allowed to respect K Dot. K Dot has shifted the game back to lyrics. She's not dissing anyone or saying Hip Hop was poor or weak. She's just stressin that lyrics were more of a throw back thing, 90s style. She grew up influenced by the 90s it sounds like and K-dot is bringing lyrics back to the mainstream now, along with quality playas like Gibbs too which she stresses. So get the fuck off these boards and quit being a little bitch! I've seen you on these boards before making stupid shit blanketed comments. And if you got a problem with me throw me your address playboy and I'll find ya and we can talk this shit out in person. Real talk.

  • RC

    How the Hell did the DJ Premier & Pete Rock collabos not make it onto the album??? I'm sorry but to proclaim yourself to be a huge Hip-Hop fan, good Hip-Hop at that and then actaully get in the studio with these two & have nothing come out of it is very very troubling.

    • RC

      No doubt man, Tribe Called Quest!! Don't get me wrong it was dope to see Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the album, but I'm still perplexed because news and footage of her working with Preem & Pete was released months before the album was released no doubt to get the attention of serious Hip-Hop fans & for just nothing to come out of it is strange. Why not utilize all of your options especially when they were literally right there at her disposal.

    • jonny

      Do you even know who Ali Shaheed Muhammad is?

  • Anonymous

    I like how K. Dot is getting his recognition but mainstream lovers shouldn't get shit twisted. K. Dot isn't the only nigga in hip hop who can spit, there are even young up and comers who spit better than him like Joey Bada$$ and Earl Sweatshirt. Then you have dudes who aren't necessarily better but they bring something different to the table like Freddie Gibbs, Ab Soul, Jay Rock, School Boy Q, Blu, Big K.R.I.T., etc. And Nas showed he still got it and you got other older cats like tech 9 and ghostface killa still doin their thing. Hip Hop doesn't really need saving cause it's out there, niggas just have to go lookin for it, plus alot of shit gets released as mixtapes nowadays and a lot of the good artists go indie or get caught up in bullshit with the record labels. Maybe true hip hop is overshadowed by the clubbin and trappin songs and other bs, but its out here and it'll never stop.

    • Anonymous

      Joey and Earl are the most overrated motherfuckers in the game

    • Anonymous

      Like 5 of the songs on his mixtape are originalproduction. You make it sound like rappers dont drop mixtapes spittin over other dudes beats, including k. dot on his C4 mixtape

    • ^^^^

      Joey only has 1 project in his catalogue & that's just a mixtape with other people's production. Wait 'til he gets more work under his belt.

    • BPSN

      JoeyBada$$ is a beast even with his limited amount of work. I wouldn't say he flat out better than K. Dot, but they are both equally very good. And then when you think about how Bada$$ spits and you realize hes only 17 youre just like damn. Plus the beat selections are different as well. If Joey Bada$$ improves on his technical game he can easily out spit k. dot. And I really like ab soul as well. Imho i think hes the best spitter out of the black hippy crew, but he just oesnt have as much material as the other guys, when him and k dot on tracks together they go ham and i think ive counted slightly more songs where ab outsits k dot. And Earl is unmatched, nobody can fuck with him. Cant wait until his album drops, the kid is a lyrical mastermind

    • smh

      Joey Bada$$? Really?

  • ....

    And ZZ Ward must be very stupid, no one person can "save hip hop". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe0DG8P79kM&feature=g-user-u

    • Anonymous

      not true I think one person can. Because that one person could motivate or inspire other rappers to come harder and make complete albums. Any rapper that has any type of ego or repect for the craft would try to out do Kendrick

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