Two-9's top 10

The young Atlanta hip-hop crew's greatest hits so far

Over the last five years, Two-9 has emerged as the young Atlanta hip-hop collective to watch. Curtis Williams, along with FatKidsBrotha, Retro Su$h!, DJ Osh Kosh, and others have developed a sound and vision that pushes Southern hip-hop beyond the clichés of mainstream trap music. The following is a list of 10 essential Two-9 mixtapes and videos that trace the group's musical evolution.

Two-9 Forever: Two-9's first mixtape is a true showing of strength that arrived on July 4, 2012. FatKidsBrotha, Retro Su$h!, and founding members Curtis Williams and Key crafted a smooth and diverse production that set the crew's legacy in motion. Two years later it's somewhat juvenile in comparison to their more recent releases. But it's still a Rosetta Stone of Two-9's new musical vernacular.

Two-9, "Scottie 2 Hottie": The video for Two-9 Forever's first single, "Scottie 2 Hottie" (directed by Young Wonder), was shot during Two-9's first trek to SXSW in March 2012. The video captures a day in the life: a backyard party, complete with shorties on a swing set and a machine gun-toting MC. Two-9 has come a long way since this was shot, but it's an excellent look at an early phase of the whole crew finding balance between gangsta rap and left-field hip-hop.

FatKidsBrotha, "DooRag" video: Two-9 Forever's second single offers proof that these dudes have been "thuggin' since they was little." Smooth production shifts this early joint in and out of a Robitussin state of mind.

A Two-9 Christmas: With guest vocals from Miloh Smith, and hosts DJs Osh Kosh and Don Cannon keeping the laid-back flow moving, songs such as "Smoke," "Face It," and "Stunt Raps" make for the perfect soundtrack to a slow ride through East Atlanta or a night spent laying low in the living room, or any other situation, really. These songs have the ability to adapt and set a cool vibe no matter where they're being played.

Curtis Williams, Half Forgotten Daydreams: Half Forgotten Daydreams has guest appearances from Money Makin' Nique, Vic Mensa, Brittany Bosco, Robb Bank$, Marian Mereba, and various other Two-9 affiliates. It's an eclectic affair, and the intro alone paints a picture of Williams as a multifaceted artist who's capable of crafting elegant and ethereal hip-hop. There's a host of producers performing at the top of their game on this one, too: Ronnie Shaw ("Face It"), Childish Major ("Saturday Night" featuring Alkebulan), and Eric Dingus ("1,000 More Blunts") all tap into the collective's subconscious to yield Williams' greatest hit so far.

Curtis Williams, "Face It" video: An homage to Schoolboy Q perhaps? Surely Williams' video for "Face It" from Half Forgotten Daydreams owes a nod to Q's "There He Go" video. But like the old adage says, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. "Face It" premiered on Rolling Stone's website, which raised Williams' profile substantially. The beat is smooth and Williams' delivery is both cocky and high-spirited — the hallmarks of a rising star — and there's no denying that this is one of the catchiest numbers he's penned.

Retro Su$h!'s Kung Fu in Japan: Kicking things off with blunted out and laid-back production courtesy of Ceej and Childish Major, "Konnichiwa" sets the stage for a cool mixtape that's not to be overlooked. "Cool Kong," "Toot$," "Eastside Prayer Interlude" — all gems.

FatKidsBrotha's Eastside Paradise II: Produced by Snubnose Frankenstein, Eastside Paradise II hangs in a balance of ethereal soundscapes and gritty street rhymes. Standouts include "Magic," "Right Now/2AM," "Crooks," and "DooRag."

Retro Su$h!'s "Zonin'" video: In a low-speed collision of atmospheric beats (courtesy of Ceej), and minor key hip-hop, "Zonin" (featuring Rome Fortune), is short and sweet — another solid look at just how inventively Ceej and Jace approach their craft.

Two-9's "Everything" video: Of the whole Two-9 catalog so far, "Everything" is the battle cry. A post-trap anthem, produced by Mike Will Made It, "Everything" is the first solid example of what Two-9 is capable of when firing on all cylinders. There's a lot of pure imagination on display here, taking shape in an anthem that's cool, mean, dirty, and dangerous — perfectly empowering, and a whole lot of fun.