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  • Conner Pettit

Review: "Ride or Die" (feat. VIC MENSA) - ZZ Ward

Although ZZ Ward isn’t throwing eggs at someone’s house or launching a past lover under a moving bus (we’ve all been there), she’s defending one person: her partner-in-crime. As shown in the music video for ZZ’s new song “Ride or Die” (ft. Vic Mensa), she’ll do anything for this person, even fight through a sketchy ring of kidnappers and (artfully, I may add) engage in hand-to-fist combat to earn his loyalty. Many of us can likely relate, wanting to give everything to someone special, standing by their side because they stood by ours. She aptly says, “when I’m looking into your eyes it’s like looking in lightning”, reminiscent of those in our lives who ignite us, spark meaning, and provide that electricity which makes us all go a little stir-crazy.

Beginning with relaxed guitar strumming and catchy vocal ad libs (“yeahs”), the track is punctuated by Zsuzsanna’s distinct, powerhouse vocals, reminding me of singers like Amy Winehouse and Bishop Briggs. Carried forward by superhero-sounding violin riffs, the music maintains a slow-but-steady, groovy quality, making the listener feel powerful yet engaged. During the pre-chorus, Zsuzsanna begins imitating the sound of police sirens (singing “Whoop Woo”), a cool vocal touch, further painting the romantic-duo image (Bonnie and Clyde) running away from law enforcement. Structurally, the song replaces the chorus section with Vic Mensa’s rap verse, adding a super interesting yet punchy flavor to the song. I genuinely enjoyed his rapping style and lyrics (fluid and strong), maintaining momentum with a simple drum beat and the occasional synthy swell. I also really liked the song’s bridge, adding another unrestrained dimension to the music, with Zsuzsanna letting loose and singing from a place of desperation and angst!

Born in Pennsylvania, later raised in Oregon, ZZ Ward (originally Zsuzsanna Eva Ward) began playing in her first band at age 12. Now, at age thirty-six, she has undoubtedly created waves in the music industry, releasing two successful studio albums and countless acclaimed singles. Her first album “Til the Casket Drops'' (2012), set the stage for her career, featuring interesting sound fusions, from Country to R&B, and the popular song “Put the Gun Down” (2013)—which earned a top 10 spot on AAA radio and further reached top 40 on the Billboard Alternative Chart. Zsuzsanna’s second album “The Storm'' (2017), peaked at #1 on the Billboard Blues Album chart, further solidifying a place in the country-blues scene and embracing the gritty, country sound she represents today. ZZ has also released many hard-hitting singles under Hollywood and Dirty Shine Records (my favorite being “Tin Cups” in 2022) and even the jazz-inspired single “The Deep” in 2017. As a listener, I deeply appreciate how she's never afraid of taking risks—creating a country song with cinematic elements, starting with a ballad yet ending with country-rock production, and in the case of Ride or Die, adding a rap verse to a bluesy-western song! Personally, I have been playing her single “Move Like You Stole It” on repeat for the last week and am excited to continue hearing more music from her!

Written by: Conner Pettit




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