Amid grieving for Prince, and the unceremonious appearance of Beyoncé’s fantastic LEMONADE, some other releases of the past week, which might have otherwise got quite a bit of fanfare, were somewhat passed over. The two most notable? A$AP Ferg’s sophomore album, and a full-length project from a Southern rap supergroup helmed by T.I. and Young Thug: Bankroll Mafia.
The Atlanta rap legendand label head, and that city’s biggest rising star of the moment, complement each other very well on record. They match elements of each other styles and take them in different directions while quickly trading verses: T.I. raps stylishly but ferociously, staying right on top of the beat, whereas Thug ducks and dodges it, juggling languorous melodic breaks with motormouth triple-flows. This rapport is what helped catapult their sticky 2014 collaboration “About the Money” to the Top 10 of the rap charts.
On the debut Bankroll Mafia project, which was released this past Friday, they exploit this dynamic, and pad it out with verses from like-minded sidemen in their respective crews. The other members of the group are Shad da God — a member of T.I.’s other supergroup Hustle Gang — frequent Thug collaborator MPA Duke (also known as just “Duke”), and London Jae, a B.o.B. protege also signed to Grand Hustle. He is only present on one song, but PeeWee Roscoe — a Thug associate and former manager who has been serving a decade in prison since last year — is also present on the album.
The other three members of the group don’t have enough personality in their own right to make their added verses a necessity to Bankroll Mafia’s album, but their flows and personality fit the precedent of T.I. and Thug’s verses nicely. Duke, in particular, has the best taste, helping to make highlights like the typically eccentric Thug-dominated “Neg 4 Degrees” and the album’s manic, hard-hitting single “Out the Face” earn their runtime. Shad is the Mr. Pibb to Thug’s Dr. Pepper; on the album’s second single, “Out My Face,” you could easily confuse him for Thugger on the hook. Nonetheless, his mellifluous raps fit the feel of the beats perfectly. It’s only the cramming of outside features that sink some of these songs, even when greats like old T.I. asset Young Dro are in play. But it’s no secret that posse cuts often end up being more fun for those involved than those of us who stick around to listen.
For the most part, this is a completely unsurprising listen: sustenance for people who already really like T.I. and Young Thug, and even the way their sensibilities complement one another.
Given how indulgent it could have been, this unexpected project has hooks and verses that make it sound like something beyond a haphazard outtakes collections or a rushed bid for publicity. Additionally, its nice to see an great like T.I. who is getting on in years and relevance connect with younger, exciting artists in a meaningful way. And luckily, Thug sounds excited to play off of his predecessor’s more traditional, composed style.
Below, we’ve pulled out the best tracks from the album; any of these will provide excellent padding for any good Southern trap-heavy playlist.