The Barking native sets up the next chapter of his career, toying with modern trap sounds and his signature familiarity.
In the space of a year, Potter Payper unlocked the fruits of his labour. But it took a while to get there. Stifled by a prison sentence, he was forced to put a pin in his career that so regularly destroys the momentum of many UK rappers. What he had left behind was a cult fanbase highly anticipating his return, fuelled by his no-BS freestyles and Training Day mixtapes. In summer 2020, Potter Payper returned home, dropping a strong EP and rounding off his Training Day trilogy that independently granted a top three chart entry. Now signed to the UK division of Def Jam, his latest mixtape arrives as a precursor to his debut album, its cover art referencing a 2017 letter he wrote to fans while serving his sentence.
Thanks for Waiting is a release that gives back to the fans, supplying the heart-on-sleeve raps while pivoting his trap repertoire to a new direction.
The appeal of Potter Payper lies in his raw, lucid approach to music. Out of every popular UK rapper, he is the one who’s formula is as simple yet affective as it can be; beats and bars, the bread and butter of hip hop. On Thanks for Waiting, the raw personality remains while everything else is upgraded in star power. The production is more polished than ever (at times too polished) and consciously enlists various features to fulfil another old Potter prophecy of working with his fellow talents in the industry.
Thanks for Waiting ensures it provides what’s expected of Potter Payper. Trap beats shimmer on “CEO Flo” with Rimzee, seeing the rappers go back to back for a fitting collaboration. Potter is more opinionated than ever on “Rappers Lie” with KO, a track that fully sticks with the subject matter from start to finish. The “Intro” narrowly adds boom bap with trap that deserved to be longer than 90 seconds, while the “Outro” provides the transparency requested from Potter, as well as one of the best beats on the album (courtesy of R14 and Age).
Potter Payper is at his best on “Johnny on the Spot”, a gripping track that is one the hardest rap tunes of the year. It adds weight to the rapper arguably being the best beat picker in the country, excelling in the way he delivers his come-up story, street validity and times of hardship.
What is most evident on Thanks for Waiting is the improvement in Potter’s hooks and song structures, an evidently conscious effort. “Take That” grants one of his best hooks to date (“Feds wanna do me dirty, see me in the A-Cat / I don’t know what’s better, comeback or the payback”). Penultimate track “Gangsteritus” provides exactly what’s required of Potter Payper for his upcoming debut album; expansive production, neat songwriting and a stellar hook from Tiggs Da Author. It is an album-quality song, setting a new bar for Potter Payper as a songwriter without compromising his traits.
Thanks for Waiting is held back in its decision to tread towards modern trap trends. Lead singles “Catch Up” and “Nothing’s Free” sent the mixtape’s expectations in disarray, seeing Potter adopt weaker flows and production. These tracks are part of the weaker stretch of the tape that includes “Take a Seat”, “Plain Clothes”, and later on “Foreva”. It finds Potter outside his comfort zone, but not to the benefit of the music, the songs all tailored to the styles of the features. Such is also the case for “Eastender”, which sounds like an Unknown T song featuring Potter Payper.
Sections like these let the mixtape down and do not find Potter heading in the right direction artistically. However, he remains in form for the majority of the project, with these moments serving as mere blemishes to a tracklist that could have been cut down and avoided the avenues uncharacteristic of Potter Payper.
Though there are misfires amongst the 18 tracks, Thanks for Waiting provides enough of Potter’s usual, energetic flair, and adds another quality addition to Potter Payper’s mixtape catalogue.
7 / 10
Best tracks: “Johnny on the Spot”, “Gangsteritus”, “CEO Flo”, “In My Sleep”, “10:30am”