When Bankroll Fresh was killed last year, on March 4, 2016, the outpouring of love and mourning from the hip-hop community proved the Atlanta rapper, who was on the verge of becoming a household name in hip-hop circles, was deeply connected.

His death spread like wildfire, with the rapper’s close friends and loved ones like his mother, Terisa Price, attempting to make sense of the unexpected tragedy. A star in the making and a fixture in his community, the 28-year-old spitter’s passing cast a dark cloud over the Atlanta rap community, with a number of former collaborators and artists, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and Juicy J among them, taking the time out to pay their respects and sing Bankroll’s praises.

Due to his charismatic nature and magnetic personality, Bankroll Fresh was able to forge relationships with many of the top players in his hometown’s rap scene, including DJ Pretty Boy Tank, a popular Atlanta-based DJ who partnered up with Bankroll and assisted in taking the young rapper’s career to the next level more than 10 years ago. “We go back to, like, 2005,” Pretty Boy Tank tells XXL of his relationship with the late rhymer. “He was in a rap group called the Get Rich Clique and I was one of the hot DJs around the time, deejaying all the teen parties or the clubs or whatever and they used to be in 'em all the time and we just linked and kept a constant relationship from there.”

Describing their initial interactions as casual, Tank says that it was a mutual friend who suggested that he and Bankroll Fresh join forces, thus beginning a friendship that would last nearly a decade. “It started off as me taking a liking to his music, I would say in 2007,” Tank says. "And we had a mutual partner also that just lost his life by the name of Wallo. And Wallo was basically like, 'Tank, Fresh, he got the music,' and by me being in the clubs or whatever, I was basically facilitating to put the music out. He had a song called 'Yes Sir' produced by Zaytoven, 2007, and it really just evolved from me hearing how dope of an artist he was to just really growing into a brotherhood.”

Tank served as a consultant of sorts as well as a personal confidant for the Life of a Hot Boy creator. He makes it clear that his dealings with Bankroll Fresh, who also launched the Street Money Worldwide label, stretched beyond music, and that the two were very close, finding kindred spirits in one another. “That man used to pull up at my house almost every morning and if he ain't pull up at my house, we'd FaceTime, talking about what plans we had to execute for the day or what we had going on for the week," Tank shares. "Basically helping facilitate putting out the music and being an A&R for him, for real for real. So it was more than just the average artist/DJ relationship, we was really like a brotherhood.”

The "Hot Boy" rhymer's laid-back demeanor and sense of humor are what drew Pretty Boy Tank to working with him as opposed to the other rappers in the local Atlanta scene -- traits they had in common. "He's a character, he's just outgoing," Tank shares. “Like, you know how most people be timid or some people just be scared to be themselves, he's one of them people that's themself. He's a real character, he really needed a TV show. And that's really just his personality. He's an all-around laid-back cool guy. He cared about his family the most and he wanted to see everybody else eat and he wanted to see his team taken care of, he was just one of those dudes everybody wanted to be around.”

Between 2007 and 2012, Bankroll, then known as Yung Fresh, would continue to build his skills and his following as an artist while keeping one foot firmly planted in the streets. He was a bit reluctant to put his all into pursuing a rap career. However, it would take DJ Pretty Boy Tank and a few of the other popular DJs in Atlanta to convince the diamond in the rough that he truly had a shot at becoming a superstar. Pretty Boy Tank says that the point when Bankroll Fresh realized that the hype was real is after the release of his debut mixtape, Street Motivation.

“Before he did Street Motivation, me, DJ Spinz and DJ Scream, we'd always be telling him 'Yo bro, you hard, you need to do this for real,'" Tank recalls. “And him being a street cat, he'd be one foot in the game, one foot out the game. So he finally started taking it serious. He had dropped a song called '36' produced by Zaytoven and that's when he started taking it seriously. And Future had just took off, 2 Chainz had took off, so the lane was really open for him, so he started taking it seriously then. His personality, or him as a person, didn't change when he started seeing success or when he started getting popular or whatever, it just made him realize how hard of a rapper that he was compared to everybody else who was out.”

Cam Kirk

Street Motivation would be a solid breakout tape and help introduce Bankroll Fresh as a solo artist beyond his Atlanta stomping grounds. The project would instill a hunger for more inside the rapper, leading to the release of his 2014 mixtape, Life of a Hot Boy, but Pretty Boy Tank says that it was 2015 when Bankroll’s buzz hit a fever-pitch. “I would have to say the Life of a Hot Boy 2: Real Trapper mixtape just 'cause it just shows his diversity as a artist, from the production he used and it was really how people grasped on to the project as opposed to the Life of a Hot Boy 1 mixtape or the Street Motivation mixtape, They [the fans] just grasped on to the Life of a Hot Boy 2 mixtape more I guess because he had built up a buzz and they was expecting it.”

The Life of a Hot Boy 2 mixtape announced Bankroll Fresh’s ascent into the upper echelon of the Atlanta rap scene, with many deeming him next in line to break through the glass ceiling and join the likes of T.I., Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Future, 2 Chainz and other local legends-turned-mainstream rap stars. Countless cosigns would follow and by the end of 2015, it was clear that Bankroll’s next project could be the one to take his career to the next level. According to Pretty Boy Tank, that was no secret to Bankroll, who was already preparing to shake things up in 2016. “Me and him had set up a series of how we wanted to drop the albums and mixtapes or whatever," he reveals. "I mean, we had already come up with titles of the following albums and mixtapes.”

Unfortunately, Bankroll Fresh’s untimely death would put those plans on hold. His friends, family, fans and the city of Atlanta mourned the rapper while attempting to build up the strength to carry on his honor. When Tank, who was one of the people present when the MC was killed, is asked whether Bankroll's death or the murder of Demandril “Lil Money” Jackson, who was slain while protecting Bankroll’s nephew and viral sensation PJ Bankroll, had prompted the Street Money Worldwide family to take additional precautions in regards to their safety, the DJ says that their have been reinforcements, but that the tragedy hasn’t deterred them from handling business as usual.

“Not necessarily differently because we always moved as a unit, always moved in a certain order or whatever,” Tank offers. “I'm not gonna say it doesn't change anything, it just makes you appreciate how you move more. But as far as we move, minor changes, but we was already moving tight and as a unit, even when Bankroll was here.”

Bankroll Fresh’s death may have been a major blow to his family, as well as the rap community, but in a twist of fate, 2016 would be the year that the rapper scored his highest-charting single, albeit posthumously, when Jeezy decided to drop “All There,” a collaboration between him and Bankroll Fresh, as the second single from his Trap or Die 3 album. “All There” would reach No. 50 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and would expose Bankroll Fresh’s voice to a broader fan base.

While a number of fans may have presumed that Jeezy had Bankroll’s vocals added to the song, Pretty Boy Tank says that it was actually the other way around. “They have a common producer and common friend, D. Rich, and if I'm not mistaken, the track was actually a Bankroll Fresh track,” Tank reveals. “He recorded the track for himself. And Jeezy was looking into getting into collaborating on some more songs with Fresh or whatever and D. Rich and the family thought it would be the best for that song or whatever and it just fit and it made sense.”

Although “All There” would be the first collaboration between Bankroll Fresh and Jeezy, the two trappers-turned-rappers had become fond of one another, with the more-seasoned Jeezy offering Bankroll advice on the highs and lows of the game, leading to the two gaining a mutual respect. While Pretty Boy Tank does admit that “All There” was completed after Bankroll’s death, he makes it clear that he and Jeezy had already spoken about teaming up to record music, but just hadn’t gotten around to it prior to his death. “A collaboration between the two was in the works, but not that particular record," he asserts. "The record just came about cause D. Rich knowing what Bankroll sound good on and knowing what Jeezy sound good on and he hollered at the family and hollered at the team and it sounded good to us, so we went with it.”

Pretty Boy Tank adds that the positive reception of “All There” served as a bright spot for him and the Street Money Worldwide team and that it’s only indicative of what fans can expect as the family prepares to release Bankroll Fresh’s debut album, In Bank We Trust, on April 24. “It made me proud 'cause I know he smiling and going the hell off right now, for real," Tank states. "And it also makes me excited 'cause at the same time we're getting ready to release his album, In Bank We Trust, so it's really just a preview of what's to come.”

In Bank We Trust, which will be the first full-length posthumous release from Bankroll Fresh, is highly anticipated and is slated to be an embodiment of who the rapper was as an entertainer and a person. Previously released songs like "Truth Be Told" are set to appear on the album. When asked if the decision to release In Bank We Trust was made prior to Bankroll's death or if it was spurred by the family, Tank says it was a mix of both. “It was already in the works, but we also wanted to honor him at the same time and put it out the right way and not rush it because everybody asking, 'When y'all gonna drop new Bankroll music?' 'When y'all gonna do this?' but at the same time, we wanted to put it out the right way and not just rush it because the demand is high," he explains.

The album will carry on the tradition of Bankroll Fresh enlisting guest rappers to join him in getting his point across, with a few big names, as well as artists from Street Money Worldwide, contributing to the album. “[As far as] artists, he's got Street Money Boochie, 2 Chainz and he got some stuff with Travis Porter," Pretty Boy Tank reveals. “But he was really working on his own a lot. We might have some songs where we send it somebody and we might piece something together, but far as artist wise, that's really it, he worked a lot by himself. And producers, we got D. Rich, King Co, Shawty Fresh, everybody was in-house at Street Execs Studios where he was recording. And then you got Zaytoven. Can't forget about Zay.”

In the wake of Bankroll Fresh’s untimely death, one question fans of the rapper have been pondering is how much unreleased material can the public expect to hear and when. A number of artists throughout the history of music have been able to continue to build on their legacy years beyond their time on earth due to the amount of material left in the vaults. When it comes to hip-hop, icons like 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Mac Dre and others have kept their name alive through posthumous releases. But in addition to those who have been able to service fans and make an impact on the game from the grave, there are also a plethora of rap artists that lacked the amount of cutting-room material required to piece together additional albums.

Pretty Boy Tank assures fans that this is certainly not the case with Bankroll Fresh, who was known as a studio rat with a work ethic that resulted in tons of material being left behind. The Street Money Worldwide family plans to liberate that music over the next few years, whether it be guest appearances on other artists records or solo albums from Bankroll himself. “As far as him solo, he has enough music for at least, I wanna say three to four albums, solo wise, but we got the Street Money Worldwide compilation, he's gonna be on that,” Pretty Boy Tank says. “I'm putting that together along with Street Money Boochie. And then he's gonna be on other Street Money Worldwide artists' projects, Street Money Boochie, Quik Trip and stuff like that, so there's definitely more plans to put out more albums by him, not just one album. He has music for a couple of albums.”

Bankroll Fresh’s death was a bitter pill to swallow for many, but was also a huge loss for the city of Atlanta, a city he repped with pride over the course of his life and throughout his career. A native of Zone 3 on the city’s West side, Bankroll was synonymous with his community, with Street Money Worldwide becoming one of the cornerstone rap movements of Atlanta’s rap scene. He organized charitable events like their annual Banksgiven Turkey Giveaway, their Christmas Toy Drive and other attempts to contribute to giving back to the neighborhood and meeting his people on common ground.

Simply put, Bankroll Fresh was an ambassador to the city and displayed his love for Atlanta with unabashed pride. “This man loved Atlanta,” Pretty Boy Tank confirms. “Like, especially if he had a show or whatever and we drove and it was within five to six hours driving range, we coming right back to Atlanta. That's how much he loved Atlanta. Anything he could do for his city, whether it was the Thanksgiving [turkey giveaway], we started that and we gonna continue to do that, far as Street Money Worldwide goes. He wanted to see the Hawks do good, he wanted to see the Falcons win the Super Bowl, he was the definition of a real Atlanta cat, man. We're like, real distinct out here, so if you put a picture of Atlanta, you could put Bankroll right next to it.”

As one of Bankroll Fresh’s closest friends and confidants, Pretty Boy Tank continues to mourn his friend and musical partner, but prefers to look back fondly on their relationship and strong bond. “That's a hard one because, like, I feel like his presence is still around me,” Tank shares when asked if there’s anything he wishes he could’ve told Bankroll prior to his death. “I feel like he's still seeing everything that's going on. And then as far as if I wanted to tell him anything... I don't know, 'cause we really had an open relationship. When he passed, it wasn't one of them situations to me, like you know how people be like 'I wish I could've did this, I could've did that.' We really knew everything [about each other]. We really did what we wanted to do and we accomplished a lot in a short time. If anything, I'd probably tell him, 'Do you see these niggas still biting your style?' That's it [laughs].”

Death can bring many things into perspective about a person and their life, but it can also alter the perception of an artist given the rose-tinted lenses people sometimes view the deceased in. This occurs particularly in music, where an artist’s passing can result in an amount of fanfare and attention beyond what that artist was able to witness and experience in real-time. Although Bankroll Fresh’s name, music and legacy is celebrated after his passing, Pretty Boy Tank believes he was already on his way to becoming a king in waiting in Atlanta if his life hadn’t been cut short.

“Yeah, I definitely know if he was still alive, he'd be the hottest rapper in Atlanta right now and probably one of the hottest in the game just based on all the hot rappers who were attaching themselves to him while he was here, as far as like Lil Wayne, Drake and 2 Chainz and stuff like that," he maintains. "So I know he'd be one of the hottest rappers in the game. Forget Atlanta, forget the South, in the game, just based on his personality and how many rappers just grasped onto liking him as far as the different genres. You got the Earl Sweatshirts, the Marilyn Mansons and stuff like that, so I know he'd definitely be one of the hottest rappers in the game.”

With one year having passed since Bankroll Fresh’s murder, the rapper’s name continues to live on, whether it be through his music, interviews, memories from friends and artists who were close to him. His legacy has only gotten stronger with time. Crowned as one of the more beloved rap artists to emerge in Atlanta in recent memory, Bankroll was a champion of the people and according to those who were close to the rapper, the people will be the ones to make sure he will not be forgotten anytime soon.

“In Atlanta, he's a legend and that's not even coming from me, that's coming from the people,” Pretty Boy Tank affirms. “I see this every day. People tell me he's a legend, far as the game, he done left his mark. And I feel like people like me and people like Jeezy or people who attach their name to him, as long as we got people like that around, his name is gonna be around for a minute.”

Rappers We Lost in 2016