Sometimes, you’ve got to sit back, listen, and chill. That’s the vibe of GHOST, the 19-track debut album from rapper and producer ZZ.
Born in India and relocating to Los Angeles in 2020, ZZ’s personality comes through his music – laid-back, seemingly understated, but also complex and begging you to pay attention.
GHOST seamlessly blends multiple genres together, including bits of hip-hop alongside R&B and Afrobeats. Recent single “bliss” embodies these points, and videos from LONEWOLF highlight the trippy atmosphere.
Rising in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene through his distinctive sound and recent string of collaborations, ZZ has been deemed an artist to watch. We had a chance to discuss GHOST and his career up to this point:
How did you get started with hip-hop and music in general?
Well, I’ve been listening to hip-hop since I was around five years old.
I had posters of Eminem and 50 Cent all over my bedroom as a lil’ kid, and in general, my family just used to blast music around the house while they brought me up – all kinds of music, from Massive Attack to Kanye West to U2.
Your sound tends to have a laid-back, chill, and somewhat trippy vibe. How would you describe your musical style?
I guess it’s just completely honest to me. The laid-back, chill vibe is how I am as a person. Sometimes, I might wanna get super emotional and introspective; sometimes, I might wanna just have fun and write some fun shit.
Chord progressions also play a big part. It completely dictates what the song is gonna be/feel like. The ability to understand that really helps with which direction I wanna go in while making a beat, writing, or making melodies.
What influences or inspires you lyrically?
Again, it’s all about staying true to myself. I try to convey whatever I’m feeling in the moment. When I’m writing, I usually think of different ways to say something I’m thinking about.
So, let’s say I think of a basic bar: I’ll think of 10 different ways to say it, and I’ll take the 10th one. I also have a huge note in my Notes app of words I randomly think about that aren’t commonly used in rap like “bosom” hahahaha. That helps a lot, too.
Your recent track “bliss” also includes some production from you. What’s your approach for producing and writing your own tracks?
I usually start with the beat. I made the beat for “bliss” in 2019, actually. I felt really calm and peaceful (literally bliss) when I made it.
Then in 2021, I was randomly thinking of flows in the shower and I thought of the main flow that became the hook for “bliss.” I was like, “Fuckkkk, I need to get that in my voice memos.
” Right after, I knew exactly what beat the melody would work on, so I played the beat from 2019 and sang over it – it fit perfectly…That being said, the process can be random AF.
Your debut album GHOST includes 19 tracks. What was your vision for this project?
Well, GHOST originally started with like two or three songs that I wanted to drop as an EP. I started with “papi,” “bonita,” and “110021.”
I kept on making similar vibes to those, which was nightlife / party / super vibey / dark moody music that makes you wanna dance, turn up, and feel sexy. Eventually, I reached 14 tracks, then 16, and then 19.
The way the album was flowing by 19 tracks felt PERFECT and cohesive to me; I decided that it was ready to go. It’s a complete album with vibes for everyone to listen to, and it flows exactly how I wanna tell the story, GHOST.
What are your plans to support GHOST?
I just dropped the video for “homesick.” I’ve got a couple more things coming, though – merch being the biggest one.
You’ve collaborated with a few artists, including FRVRFRIDAY, 24kGoldn, Guapdad 4000, and Kodie Shane. How do these collaborations come about, and how do they differ from working on your own music?
Collaborating with artists is probably the most exciting thing to do. The energy in the studio is unbeatable and that’s how good music comes out.
When I’m working solo it’s definitely a different side of me, so it’s great to collaborate, because people can bring out sides in you that you didn’t know existed.
Tell us about working with music video director LONEWOLF. How are your music videos conceptualized?
Zac is an absolute genius. I reached out to him a while back, and he fucked with my music, and we just got it going. In terms of conceptualizing, it depends on what story you’re telling.
I usually try to think of the aesthetic the song makes me feel before thinking of anything else. Once that’s decided, the lyrics, emotions, literally any aspect of the song can decide how you wanna move forward.
I’ve been a BIG fan of OG Eminem videos – quirky, vibrant, timeless. I’ve also been loving Slowthai’s videos lately. Top notch.
As your career is taking off, what do you see as the next stage?
More music, more life, more success. Coachella 2024 – let’s goooooooo.