Four years ago, Atlanta rapper Bankroll Fresh was shot outside of Street Execs Studios and was later pronounced dead while on the way to the hospital. The 28-year-old’s climb to fame had ended early. After leaving behind a handful of mixtape releases and gathering co-signs and nods from rappers like Drake, Earl Sweatshirt, and his close friend 2 Chainz, his rise to stardom halted, presumably leaving behind a batch of unfinished music and a wave of upset from the fans who nominated him as Atlanta’s next superstar.
Unfortunately, though, it’s clear Fresh didn’t leave much behind in his canon. Originally slated for 2017, In Bank We Trust arrives three years too late, releasing instead on the rapper’s fourth year anniversary of his death, March 4, 2020. Boggled down by flat production and a lack of standout cuts, it’s obvious that this posthumous debut LP is missing much of the energy and imagination that initially made Fresh a rapper to watch.
Clearly missing from In Bank We Trust are the interesting pockets that defined Fresh through his music, like in songs such as “ESPN,” “Walked In” or “36.” There are no aggressively braggy jack-hammering flows, no minimal or stripped-back beats, no weird stutter verses. If Bankroll Fresh on In Bank We Trust is to be his true debut studio album, we’re introduced to yet another Atlanta rapper drowned in the city’s source of inspiration, blending in with contemporaries instead of finding a distinct voice to call his own.
That’s not to say there aren’t at least a few interesting songs on this album. “Mind, Body & Soul” samples Goblin’s “Suspiria” theme and churns out a mystical trap grind anthem, as Fresh recounts his path to success through synths and a weaving flow. He spells out the title track on the song’s second verse, charismatically dropping bars with a cadence similar to his friend 2 Chainz, who, somehow, doesn’t make an appearance on the album. “Extra” sees Fresh channel his inner-most Gucci Mane influence for a trapper’s hustle anthem, although through the lens of a somewhat dated hook and instrumental.
But there are more misses than hits, it seems, as the trunk-knocking “Quarter Million” begins an album trend of very short and bland hooks that don’t need repeating. The Street Money Boochie-assisted “Loyalty Is Real” is both annoying and undercooked, as Fresh’s vocals sound as if he were initially workshopping the song in his kitchen or bathroom. The piano-laden “Million Up” gets its excitement from Fresh’s onslaught of adlibs, before Boosie Badazz takes the mic for an aggressive, but short verse (“Do you really want your chest in your back, your head in your lap? You can get it.”). “Confessions,” which closes the album with rapper Ques, sees Fresh stammer about his verses through mumbling stanzas that meander for far too long. “Every day I’m makin’ trips to the bank,” he raps on the song’s first verse. “Check deposit, deposit a lot of this garbage, it’s a lot of twenties, I call that garbage ’cause that shit really nothin’, I just deposit it in, and then I have somethin’ to spend.”
It’s tough to say if Bankroll Fresh needed to drop a proper studio album at all, let alone one after his death, given the rapper’s viral appeal and his constantly developing style. What is for certain, though, is that In Bank We Trust presents a version of Fresh that does nothing to project his legacy.
His best moments already live on the internet, permanently etched with WorldStarHipHop watermarks, and parading his Atlanta squad behind him.