This is a good time to get familiar with rising singer ZZ Ward. The Oregon native, who currently resides in Los Angeles, broke through earlier this year with the release of her mixtape Eleven Roses, which found her spewing buttery blues vocals over beats from notable hip-hop tracks like Tyler The Creator’s “Yonkers. “She followed that up with her Criminal EP, and on October 16 she’ll release her debut Til The Casket Drops. RapFix got some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Ward in the studio with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad, as she worked on new music.
The footage finds Ward at work on a her track titled “Charlie Ain’t Home” with her friend and collaborator Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. “Growing up I listened to Etta James a lot, and she had a song called ‘Waiting for Charlie to Come Home,’” she said, explaining her inspiration. “I would listen to it all the time. It was one of my favorites and I just thought—what if someone got sick of waiting for Charlie to come home?”
To get the sound just right, she linked up Ali Shaheed, who knows a thing or two about putting together a great track. “Ali Shaheed is a legend and it’s been great working with him so far,” she said. “He has a great sense of what works and what doesn’t he just has a such a great sense of rhythm.”
Ward began singing with a blues band at the age of 12, and she later got into the hip-hop scene in Eugene, Oregon, by asking rappers in local hip-hop clubs if she could sing the choruses on their hooks. This year she hit the stage at Austin’s SXSW music festival and her debut Til The Casket Drops will be released on Hollywood Records/Boardwalk this fall. In addition to Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s contributions, fans can also expect collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on the upcoming project.