By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Darnell Williams gives hope to anybody with a dollar and a dream. Coming up behind-the-scenes and shooting music videos for Big Sean (“Mula”, “24K of Gold”), the Detroit native finally decided to pursue his first love: rapping.
Most recently, he unleashed his single “Turbo” featuring Atlanta’s own Reese LAFLARE, and is ready to take the record across the world. With the help of his Roc Nation management and 12Tone Music label, the 27-year-old has goals of becoming the biggest rapper to ever do it.
AllHipHop caught up with Darnell to discuss life back home in Detroit, his sounds, and friendships with La Flame & Chance.
AllHipHop: For those who don’t know, who is Darnell Williams?
Darnell Williams: I’m the ultimate artist. I’m a director, rapper, writer, screenwriter, but really a musician. Right now, I'm becoming one of the hottest artists in America, as far as the rap s##t. Other than that, I'm just a dope ass director. I screen-write and s##t.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
Darnell Williams: My sound is all over the place honestly. I record a lot of trap s##t, storytelling s##t. Definitely Detroit-based type s##t. I have a lot of old school 80’s type vibes. Lately, I been working on some real smooth s##t for the ladies. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Being from the West 7 Mile section of Detroit, what were you seeing growing up?
Darnell Williams: The same s##t I see when I go back now: poverty, no motherf##king opportunity, but just good ass people. Real people. Everybody out there hustling a thousand different hustles. I don’t even mean selling drugs. Of course, that’s in every neighborhood. Beyond that, Detroit motherf##kers really know how to hustle. Especially 7 Mile. People selling you socks. People have no formal training but they can refurbish a whole inside of a house for you type s##t. My whole life was based off different hustles I knew, from uncles, etc.
People think the hood is all day running around, n##gas shooting and s##t. We definitely hear gunshots all the time, ambulances, fights in the neighborhood. That’s normal life, but is it every day I see a dead body? Not really. To be honest, the first time I seen a dead body outside laying on the ground was the day I was moving to LA.
AllHipHop: What happened?
Darnell Williams: I don’t know! Some dispute happened across the street. By the time I seen him, he was dead in the field. They were putting a blanket over him. It's crazy because the news was reporting it, he’s still laying there. That was a weird feeling. I’m like “damn, I’m about to leave and he’s the last thing I see.
But my life was pretty dope, I had fun in the streets. There’s definitely moments, people I loss that I miss, but I wouldn’t change nothing about my upbringing or the s##t I seen growing up.
AllHipHop: How does it compare to 8 Mile?
Darnell Williams: No offense to 8 Mile because I got a lot of people there on the East Side, but 8 mile is the border between Detroit and all of the suburbs. You’re pretty much in white territory. You want to drive slower, there’s more police on that side. 8 Mile is huge because of the movie but really if you from 8 mile, you damn near not from the city. It’s literally the last point of the city before you hit the suburbs.
AllHipHop: On “F*CK HOLLYWOOD”, you say you made a milli last year. How’d that happen?
Darnell Williams: I probably can’t talk about this because of the tax situation I’m doing. I’m not in trouble with my taxes, but I don’t want them pulling nothing up. I just paid a s##t load of taxes this year. I swear to God, it was so crazy. I was sad. It hurt. It’s almost like buying a car and you don’t get nothing from it except the IRS like “hey yeah we’re not gonna take you to jail.” [laughs] Blessings to have it and be able to pay it, but f##k.
AllHipHop: Talk about having cosigns from Travis & Chance The Rapper.
Darnell Williams: s##t man, they just friends. It ain’t even no s##t where “oh I’ve been sending them music.” Nah honestly, I known Chance since way back in Chicago. I known Travis since way back when he had the bald fade. I done known Travis his whole rise up. Honestly, it's just friends supporting friends.
AllHipHop: Best memory shooting the videos with Big Sean?
Darnell Williams: Probably the tour. We were on the Rolling Papers Tour. Honestly, the whole tour was just lit. I came straight out the hood to travelling in every city. It’s a whole new experience.