On Tuesday evening (March 8) earlier this week, Bankroll Fresh, born Trentavious White, was memorialized with a candle lighting in downtown Atlanta. The 28-year-old rapper was killed in front of the Streek Execs’ recording studio the Friday before. The vigil was to serve as sort of a fellowship for many within the city that were still reeling from the unexpected loss of the promising rapper who grew up just a few minutes away in a neighboring section of Atlanta.
On the street adjacent to the venue, young men revved up their ATVs and dirt bikes, offering their own tribute to Bankroll who featured the riders in every video that he’d filmed during his ascent in recent years—from “Hot Boy” to “Walked In” with Travis Porter.
Rap fans, fellow artists and longtime friends streamed into the parking lot of the Blue Ivory Lounge in Castleberry Hill. The event, organized by Bankroll’s Street Money squad, was slated to begin at 6:00 p.m. and by then police had blocked off both ends of the street. Some attendees pulled up on the sidewalks to just to park and blast tracks from Bankroll’s Life of a Hot Boy 2, his standout project that was released last spring.
The mood seemed somewhat jovial on the surface, as if attendees were hosting a surprise party for a guest of honor that had not yet arrived. Drones zipped up and around, capturing the crowd at different angles. The youngest Street Money member, 5-year-old Bankroll PJ, held onto a microphone as he stood on top of Fresh’s white truck and shouted affirmations to the crowd—“Y’all don’t cry. It’s gon’ be alright!”
Women in skintight dresses side-stepped men with propositions. The ground was littered with cigarillo wrappers and empty half pints of cognac, and every once in a while, the crowd would holler Bankroll’s signature tag, “Streeeet!” It was a scene reminiscent of his Hot Boy 2 listening at Street Execs’s offices less than a year ago.
People were celebrating Bankroll’s life—dancing and rapping along to the music that blasted from the Blue Ivory speakers—with fleeting prompts that he was actually gone: the tealight candles that were passed around, the black balloons that floated overhead. There were pockets of men and women with custom screen-printed shirts that read “RIP Trent”—these were the reminders.
Bankroll Fresh was set to headline countless showcases in Austin at SXSW this month. Unnamed sources say that he was in talks with major labels in regard to a record deal and, above all, the rapper was excited to see his demand grow and he had a full schedule in place over the next few months—the same as it’s been over the past year. Bankroll was witnessing his dreams come to fruition after a period of simply wanting it to happen, running around with Gucci Mane as Yung Fresh. Now, he was finally making it happen.
So although people talked and laughed and danced at the Blue Ivory Lounge that night, there was an underlying feeling of dread existing right there within that candle-lighting crowd: The city’s next up was taken, indefinitely, survived by his beloved grandmother, his parents and his two young children. By 9:00 p.m., the music had been turned off and the lights from hundreds of small candles glimmered as every attendee stood, remembering the sad and insipid truth that Bankroll Fresh’s life was cut short long before he reached his peak.