Interview: Zaytoven Speaks on Bankroll Fresh's Death and His Legacy

Bankroll's longtime collaborator sheds light on the rapper's life.

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Complex Original

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Late last night, Atlanta rapper Bankroll Fresh was shot and killed outside of a studio in his hometown. It's still unclear at this time who was behind the shooting and what their motives were. What is clear is that the tragedy sent a shockwave through the hip-hop community, with many mourning the loss of the 28-year-old on social media, which speaks to the positive impact Bankroll had inside and outside of the booth.

He'll be remembered by his family, friends, and collaborators, including producer Zaytoven, who worked closely with Bankroll throughout the years and knew first-hand how much of a talent and great of a person he was. We spoke with Zaytoven over the phone about his reaction when he heard the news of Bankroll's death, his time spent with the rapper in the studio, and what he wants his legacy to be.

How did you found out about him passing?
I had just left the Future concert last night for his Purple Reign tour out here in Atlanta. My friend Tracy T called me and asked me, "You heard Fresh got shot?" I didn’t know nothing about it. And he seemed unsure, so I said, "Let me make a few calls." He was trying to call around and see, and I couldn’t get nobody on the phone. He called me back maybe 15 minutes later like, “Yeah man, he got shot and he died.” I was like, what? I called around some more, I finally got Cap 1 on the phone, and Cap 1 told me that was the situation.

What was your reaction when it was confirmed?
It brought tears to my eyes, man. That broke my heart. He was like a younger brother to me.

Is there anything you think that might have fueled what occurred?
I really have no idea. When I say these guys are like brothers to me, either him, Tracy T, or guys you see me with, these young and up-and-coming artists, they come around my house all the time. They interact with my family, we do the music, and that’s where I really build my relationship with these guys.

Outside of that, who they know in the streets and where they go and what they do, a lot of times I’m unaware of. I don’t know what they really got going on so I have no idea what could have triggered what happened.

When did you first meet Bankroll Fresh?
It had to be maybe 2006. A friend of mine named Wallo brought him over like, “Man, this young kid, man, he’s fresh. He dope, you need to work with him. He rapped on one of your beats.” The song was called “Yessir.” I don’t know where he got the beat from, but he played it for me, and I was like, “Man this dude dope. I like him a lot.”

Fresh been just coming over to the house everyday after that. He’d come over and record, I’d give him beats. I put him on songs with Gucci [Mane] and told Gucci to do songs with him and all the guys around. It’s just how it’s been. Since I met him, it’s like we just rocked ever since then.

During those early encounters, what was it about him that made you gravitate toward him?
It’s just him being authentic. His sound, his style, and his personality. At first he was kind of quiet, he didn’t say too much. But then I would see him everyday and we started knowing each other and start feeling each other out, start joking. He would record at anytime on any beat. Our relationship just grew greater after that.

What was your last memory with Bankroll?
Bankroll was at my house two days ago. He came over and recorded two songs over here at my house, and he showed me he had a new truck. A new big truck with the monster tires and stuff on it. He brought me outside in the front yard like, “Check me out, look at the car. Brand new truck.” I said, “Man, it looks good. Fresh, it look good on you.”

Remember Bankroll Fresh, because that’s a senseless death. It’s no reason you should go out and die over something that’s probably over nothing, and you had such a great talent and such a bright future.

As someone who worked so closely with him, how do you want his legacy to be remembered?
Just like all the other guys that died, like Doe B, I feel like all of them died before their time. I want his music to live on, but at the same time be an example to all the up-and-coming young guys that might be in the streets or get hot-headed or get in confrontations or shoot or fight a lot. Remember Bankroll Fresh, because that’s a senseless death. It’s no reason you should go out and die over something that’s probably over nothing, and you had such a great talent and such a bright future. I definitely want him to be remembered in that sense.

You mentioned the senseless killings, which is something T.I. brought up on Instagram. It continues to take place in the rap community with Bankroll Fresh, with Chinx, with Doe B, and others.
It’s heartbreaking for a guy like me ‘cause I’m a guy that gets along with everybody, I want to make peace with everybody. I like to introduce people to each other, especially in the hip-hop community. A lot of these guys met or even done songs with each other because of me, meeting at my house. Or I work with them on one end and then I work with the other guy on the other end, so I put them together to do a song together. So for this stuff to be going on in hip-hop community, I’m really just at a loss for words. I don’t know why it’s happening.

I know it’s still early, but do you have any plans to share some of your unreleased collaborations with him?
We most definitely will. I have to. I want to make it grand, I want to put it on a big stage. So I’m going to take the time and make sure that everything is fine-tuned so when I do release it that the world get it and can consume it how they need to, man, and to help his legacy live on.

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