Robb Bank$ Talks ‘Year of the Savage’ and Signing to 300
2Phone turns off silent mode and says his peace
Broward County, Florida is low-key one of the best places for a rapper to live. While cities like Fort Lauderdale has the allure of prestigious yachting clubs and Spring Break destinations, there is another side of the spectrum that depicts drug trade, countless strip clubs, and gun violence throughout the county. Mind you, this is the region of the country where all of the flakka and bath salts stories come from. Broward offers the perfect combination of grit and glamour: a winning formula for the majority of successful rappers right now, from ATL dwellers Young Thug and Migos, to New Jersey’s own Fetty Wap. Coincidentally—or maybe not—all of the aforementioned rappers can be found on the roster of powerhouse independent record label 300 Entertainment. Just recently, 300 announced via Twitter that they have brought on a young rapper by the name of Robb Bank$, who hails from Coral Springs, Florida in none other than Broward County.
Early in his career, Robb Bank$ gained a sizeable cult following from posting music and socializing online—particularly on Tumblr. He even proclaimed himself the “TumblrGod,” which ended up being the name of his first Twitter handle. It was around that time, between 2011 and 2012, that he divulged the title of his debut album, Year of the Savage. He would eventually form his Smart Stunnas collective and drop two mixtapes: Calendars and Tha City, but no sign of an album could be found. Fast forward to early 2015, and YOTS still seemed like a myth—until the rise of what should now be called the “2PhoneShawty” era, which saw the release of two EPs: 2PhoneShawty and No Trespassing (with Memphis rapper Chris Travis, formerly of Spaceghostpurrp’s Raider Klan). When it was revealed that Bank$’ song “2PhoneShawty” was actually a single from YOTS, it became clear that the album was near, and that all of the releases had been building up to this moment.
September arrives, and Robb releases a freestyle on SoundCloud (without his manager’s blessing) called “Throw It Up,” announcing at the end that fans could finally cop his long-anticipated album on October 2nd. Just before the arrival of YOTS, Mass Appeal reached out to let Robb speak for himself (presumably on one of his 2 phones) to reveal the inner workings of his mind and recount how he created this long-awaited body of work. In this discussion, he suggests that, overall, he thinks he might be happy.
Mass Appeal: Year of the Savage has been in the works for a few years now. That’s a long time to be working on an album.
Robb Bank$: I have been working on Year of the Savage for a long time, but with this particular batch of music, I’ve only been working on it for six months. I’ve made the album three different times over. The other two are unreleased, but this third one I’m really happy with, and everyone who has heard it is happy with it too.
You dropped a ton of loose tracks on SoundCloud during the months leading up to the album. A lot of those songs are album-worthy, but you claimed them to be freestyles. If that’s the case, were they meant to remind everyone how lyrically sharp you are?
[Laughs] Nah bruh, no. I’ve done all of that dumb lyrics and bars shit. I probably shouldn’t be saying this because y’all are Mass Appeal [Laughs]. Lowkey, I’ve just been doing it for a long time, bruh. I done made a hundred 10-minute songs full of nothing but bars. That shit bores me now. I don’t care if it comes off as cocky, but I truly feel like there’s nobody that is a better lyricist than me. When it comes to punchlines and bars, I will get any nigga. I will give it to anybody, and I feel like there’s people out there that know that too, and I’ve worked hard to prove that for a long time. Now, I don’t feel like doing that shit all of the time anymore.
Every song I make is always going to have some punchlines in there. At the end of the day, I like making songs. I don’t wanna just be bars, bars, and bars for seven minutes straight and have a hundred-bar verse. I don’t wanna do that for my whole career. The only reason I threw the shit on SoundCloud was because I don’t do nothing but music: I’m literally in the studio every day—I’m on my way there right now. There ain’t nothing else to do, and between working on YOTS and other projects, I will have throwaways.
What is your strategy when it comes to releasing music?
I always make sure to think about how I’m going to release something before I do it. The aesthetics of the releases are really important to me. I believe in strategy, but in every aspect of life, really. You will never get better by winging it.
Your last freestyle posted here was “1 In The Head,” which was produced by Nuez. Many people hadn’t heard about him prior to working with you. How did you guys meet?
He’s on the other line right now [Laughs] I’ll call him back. But yeah, I just met him at the studio that I go to in Margate. He was just there one day working with someone else and kept telling me, “I got beats for you, let me know.” I went in there later and was like, “Aye, let me hear them beats.” He played me some, and from there we started working. He ended up recording and engineering the whole album and producing several cuts.
You soon followed up with the official single, “Pressure.” In this song, what did you mean when you said, “Went broke and switched / followed that light”?
Niggas have switched up, you know? Like, I done gone broke and seen niggas switch up on me. It’s a double entendre too. When someone goes broke, they probably switch what they do to get some money—and you know, “Broke,” “Switch,” Light…”
What insight have you gained from being on the road, especially overseas?
I learned that I don’t want go to Europe ever again [Laughs]. Nah, I love all of the people in Europe, I just had a horrible tour manager out there. The company I worked with didn’t promote any of the shows right. They sucked. I’ll never work with them again. To the fans, I’m sorry about that. They were trash as fuck.
[Touring] changes the way you see things and changes who you are. What I actually learned on tour is just that I really don’t get too excited easily. I feel like I’ve seen a lot for my age.
How old are you?
I am 20…and I feel old as shit.
Photo by Bryce D. Chapnick
What do you think of the Florida rap scene in general?
Overall, trash. It’s been the same niggas for a long time. I don’t know. The only niggas I see getting it are the obvious ones. I don’t have to say names. I know all of them and I’m friends with all of them. Those are the only ones I really see. That might be my fault because lately all I’ve been listening to is beats, but honestly, I don’t like anyone besides IndigoChildRick and me.
What about Kodak Black? He’s from Pompano, not too far from Springs.
How can I forget Kodak? He’s different. I don’t see him as a part of the Florida rap scene, but he’s the only nigga out of Broward besides me and Rick that’s snappin’, you feel me?
“Threatz,” a song by Denzel Curry that you’re featured on, became an underground hit—especially in Florida. How are you feeling about the song now that it’s been out for several years?
It’s not my song, so I don’t really have a crazy opinion on it. I did it for Curry because he asked me to get on it, and that was that. I don’t have anything against the song, it’s just old. I don’t care if it’s a feature or my own song—if it’s old, then I won’t listen to it or perform it. I cringe. I get embarrassed sometimes. Curry and I are cool, though. I just saw him in Tampa at Takeoff x Landing festival.
You mentioned to a fan on Tumblr, “If I didn’t go, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now,” referring to your summer in NYC years ago. What happened to you on that trip that was so significant?
I was able to live by myself for the first time. I was able to be broker than a bitch and not have no money, you know? I had already done it similarly in Florida when I was 13 or 14, but there was always my mom’s house to fall back on a meal and a place to sleep. In New York, I didn’t have any fucking friends and didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have a job. The only reason I went there was to work with my homeboy who was there for the summer. We had a group at the time (before I learned how to rap by myself), so I felt like I had to go up there to work on music. This was the first time I was only living for music and nothing else. There were no distractions. This was the first time my eyes were opened to the life of a rapper. I had a whole new focus from there.
Last year, you and Nuri were on the bill for III Points festival—which is held annually in Miami’s art district. This year, the two of you are back and this will be one of the first big shows after the album’s release. What can people expect?
Last year, I actually didn’t perform at III Points. Nuri asked to put my name on the bill, and I was like, “Sure,” but I didn’t end up going because I got booked for my first out-of-state show. I’ll definitely be performing with Nuri as my DJ this year. I’m excited for that because it’s a festival in Miami, and I’ve never been out there before.
I’m also about to go on a whole nationwide tour with 30 dates or something like that. I’ll be in several cities in Florida on top of III Points. It’s going to be tedious as hell, but I’m ready. I’m excited for this tour. I know everybody from SS will be there. I’ll probably get some more people who I’m a fan of to come on tour, and I’ll announce that later.
Speaking of SS, who are the members of the Smart Stunnas crew?
IndigoChildRick, Pouya, Kie Money, and me. Kie Money is about to come out soon. Nobody has really heard about his music yet, but I’m executive producing his EP. Nobody else is in SS. If anyone says otherwise, they’re a liar.
Have you noticed any illusions in the rap game since you’ve been in it?
Yup. All of it is an illusion; every last bit. If you asked me this question two or three years ago, I would probably have given you this elaborate speech on how it’s so fucked up, how everybody is fake, how you gotta continue to be real, and how the fans look at the fake people like they’re real, but to be honest, now I don’t give a fuck mane. I don’t care about that shit. Rap is something that I love, and the music business is just a part of my job. As I got older, I learned how to maneuver and work it to my advantage. The only reason I still keep this up is because I love music.
So with that said, what caused you to decide to sign to 300 Entertainment and go through a label? Are there any artists on the roster that you particularly dig?
It’s been something I’ve had in the works for a little minute. It’s a distribution deal for YOTS, so I’m still an independent artist. I felt it was the right route for this project in particular because I honestly just want to make sure everyone hears this body of work. It’s truly my best yet. I fuck with everybody on there, but I listen to Thug and Fetty Wap the most.
— 300 Entertainment (@300) September 23, 2015
Who assisted you, musically, on YOTS?
Mostly the usual people I work with: IndigoChildRick, Nuri, Nick Leon, Uncle Flex, and Nuez. I just started working with Nuez this year. The only other person is a fan who sent me a beat that I decided to use. I also have a song with Zaytoven, but we’ve worked before. He did good on this one; it’s my favorite song off the album right now.
On a final note, you don’t seem to trip over things that most artists tend to care about. Do you at least care about how your audience will receive your debut album?
I don’t know, I just know they’re gonna like it. I know this is the most solid project I’ve ever made, like, ever. This is my best work up to date, it is fye, and I love it. I listen to it all of the time, and I’m not even one of those rappers that bumps his own music. I’m not just trying to toot my own horn here either.
I’m not concerned with the numbers or what people have to say about it. I’m ready for it to come out because it’s just been on my shoulders for a minute. I was just listening to the album the other day, and I had to turn to my boy and ask him, “Bruh, how the fuck did I do this?”
Photo by Rob Portal