Potter Payper has gone from underrated legend to arguably UK Rap’s hottest property since he came out of prison last year. His 2020 Vision EP and Training Day 3 mixtape proved that the Essex rapper had not lost his touch during his forced hiatus from music. Since then, he has signed to the 0207 Def Jam record label and can now call one of the kingpins of the UK scene, Stormzy, his label mate. His latest release, the mixtape Thanks For Waiting, shows us that Potter Payper is only getting better, as he diversifies his sound whilst showing no detriment to his lyrical ability.
There is a clear variation in terms of production on the latest project in comparison to the Training Day trilogy. While this may prove worrisome to avid fans of the artist, it only shows that Potter is able to step out of his comfort zone and deliver on a wide array of beats. We still get the classic Potter Payper sound which makes up the spine of the tape, and can be heard on tracks such as “I Just Need”, and “Johnny On The Spot”.
This back bone of the project delivers the quality output you would expect from such a winning formula, as the rapper makes himself at home on a range of soulful instrumentals and Hip-Hop inspired beats, yet there seems to be a conscious decision to branch out into other soundscapes. Whether it’s afrobeats on “Plain Clothes” with NSG, or a more trap wave inspired track featuring Billy Billions and IamCP on “Take A Seat”, there is clear evidence of a stylistic change. This should be exciting for listeners of Potter Payper, as it demonstrates that he is only just getting started in terms of perfecting his sound.
This stylistic diversification can partially be traced back to the feature list on the project. As a Potter fan, I was at first sceptical when seeing how feature heavy the track listing was. The Training Day trilogy for the most part was made up of pure, unadulterated road rap bars from one of the best to ever do it in the UK, if not the world, and thus seeing so many features caused alarm that Potter and his team were messing with a winning formula. However, the tape does not feel as feature heavy as one might expect, with those appearing on the tape either slotting in perfectly into tracks to complement Potter, or pushing him outside of his comfort zone to create artistic growth and elevation.
This movement away from what’s expected can be seen on one of the lead singles on the tape, “Nothing’s Free”, with Suspect. The feature rapper brings an unrivalled energy on his verse and adlibs, while Potter experiments with a new flow across a hard instrumental. Elsewhere, Haile and Tiggs Da Author bring melody and vibrancy to their respective tracks, while KO puts in a performance on “Rappers Lie” that serves as a reminder that he will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.
What is quintessential to a Potter Payper mixtape however is his unique blend of storytelling, witty bars, and imagery. As the listener works their way through the tape the rapper’s unrelenting love for his grandmother, as well as his friendship with Muni, becomes apparent and difficult to ignore. It is easy for rappers to focus on their lavish lifestyles as subject matter for their projects, but there is something inherently human about how Potter mixes both worlds. His track with Haile, “Never”, serves as a lecture in how to succeed when coming from the roads, whilst on “Johnny On The Spot”, Potter demonstrates the dichotomy between music and road, rapping ‘I’m paranoid plus I’m OCD, I got A-cat nightmares and main stage dreams’. However, If there is one song across the tape that feels as if it gives the listener the essence of Potter Payper as an artist, it is “For The Block”. This track shows Potter at the top of his game, as it combines clever wordplay and emotion to create a track that no one else in the UK scene could make.
If you call your mixtape, Thanks For Waiting, then it needs to be worth the wait. There is no doubt that Potter Payper has delivered a stellar project accompanied by a star studded cast, and has challenged himself to elevate and expand out of his niche. Following the Training Day trilogy was always going to be Potter’s biggest challenge in his career to date, yet the quality of the tape feels effortless. When the rapper is firing on all cylinders, as he is for the vast majority of this project, there are very few people globally who would deserve a seat at his table. This growth and elevation feels like it is coming at the perfect time to prepare for his debut album, and if he continues on the trail he has blazed since being released from prison, it’s going to be scary for the UK scene.
If you missed out on our Potter Payper essential tracks, be sure to check that out right here