Curtis Williams is a ringleader ready for the spotlight 

The weed-by-the-acre emcee churns out catchy hooks

Curtis Williams is nearly a head taller than most of Two-9's other performers. During shows and in videos, this founding member also acts the rowdiest. Take the "Everything" video, filmed at the paintball-meets-"Walking Dead" Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse. While his fellow crew members keep cool on the grounds, Williams' lanky body nearly doubles over as the group's greedy hook — "'Cause we want/Everything, nigga/Everything" — kicks the song into high gear. He belongs in a mosh pit.

On solo mixtapes such as 2011's Trill Shit Only and 2013's Half Forgotten Daydreams, Williams, 23, mostly raps about being popular — being surrounded by his boys, bringing women back to his crib, and always having weed on hand for his guests. In reality, he acts like a ringleader ready for the spotlight now that Two-9 is signed to Mike WiLL Made It's Interscope imprint Ear Drummer Records.

"For some reason people still call me Two-9 or Johnny [Light Skin Mac 11 from FatKidsBrotha] Two-9 — like, he is Two-9," Williams says. "Niggas be tweeting me Johnny lyrics. Salute, but that's not my song, bro."

Williams says this while posted up at Disturbing Tha Peace studios and prepping a joint over a Wiz Khalifa rolling tray — a gift from the Pittsburgh rapper. On the tray, Khalifa's likeness appears as part of a U.S. dollar bill, as if he were a dead president.

When Williams isn't being mistaken for other members of Two-9, fans liken him to Khalifa, though Williams grew up aspiring to be like Pharrell. The first albums he ever purchased were N.E.R.D. records.

Those make more sense than comparisons to Light Skin Mac 11, who cuts Dr. Dre-inspired riding anthems for FatKidsBrotha. Both Khalifa and Williams are limited, weed-by-the-acre MCs who churn out catchy hooks, as in "How to Be Real" off the former's 2014 mixtape 28 Grams. But while Khalifa breaks into stoner cackles over almost anything, Williams still sounds scrappy. Songs such as 2013's "Face It" are now standard solo Williams with their boastful lyrics, bratty voice, and psychedelic loops more fitting for solitary chill-out sessions than crowded house parties.

Lately, Williams has been trying to show that he can be a superstar in any setting. Current single "Drip," from his new mixtape Danco James (released Aug. 29), takes cues from two of his favorite artists. The hook riffs on N.E.R.D.'s 2008 frenetic party anthem "Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)," while the song features brash hip-hop goofball RiFF RAFF. Williams compares the rest of Danco James to a James Franco movie — to any of them, he says at first, before settling on Spring Breakers and Pineapple Express.

"If you want to go chill and sit in a park and look at the clouds or go to the club, you can put this on anytime," Williams says. "If you want to go to sleep, or when you're pre-gaming with your homies, about to skate or going to a basketball game, you can just put this shit on."


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