First Impressions Of Potter Payper’s ‘Thanks For Hating’ Mixtape

The Complex UK music team share their thoughts on the recent MOBO Award winner’s latest outing.

Image via Publicist

The press release that came with the original announcement promised that Thanks For Hating would be “straight-talking”. In the near two decades he’s been rapping, Potter Payper has never been one to mince his words. In fact, apart from some textbook bravado in his very earliest freestyles, he never even really boasted about the darker sides of his life. It was always just about telling the story, the heady highs and often disturbing lows. 

But since Potter left prison in 2020, he’s had a different outlook. He was tired of being an underdog, tired of not getting what he felt he deserved, whether that’s critical or commercial success. To a degree, some of that was placated when he signed to 0207 Def Jam. The Boateng twins and their team clearly believed in him and things were going well. He released a handful of projects and singles, and some of the top music and style publications formed a line to his door. But now he’s left the label and started his own called 36TheLabel.

“He’s betting on himself,” the press release went on to say, “surpassing all expectations and proving to himself—and anyone who has ever doubted him—that he will stand the test of time.” You can feel some of that pressure on the new tape and you could feel it in the run-up, too.

Potter seemed more bothered by placings in ‘Best Rappers’ lists or comments that questioned his vision. On Twitter, Potter dug out old tweets from users saying he was overrated or that they just plain old didn’t like him, quote-tweeting with just #ThanksForHating. A lack of nominations at The Brits put further fuel to the fire. On the flip, when he scooped his MOBO Award, he seemed to appreciate that more as well.

There’s a lot riding on Thanks For Hating, but the only question for Potter Payper is: will it get the recognition he feels it deserves?

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Best song?

JP: Potter’s contemplative delivery on “My City’s Not Safe” isn’t something we’re necessarily used to from him. More often than not, he’s attacking the beat with fire in his belly, and he’s become revered in the rap game for this particular style. But there’s something about the reflective state he’s in on “My City’s Not Safe” that stands out from the rest of the project; his book is fully open, sharing glimpses of his life as a hood star-turned-rap star and how he navigates through all the mess that comes with it. Ice and Wraiths are what dreams are made of, but it’s not all what it cracks up to be for a man like P.

James: Potter led the rollout with “Trench P” for a reason. Chapo and Zyan’s sizzly, Latin-flavoured production on “Sinaloa Cartel” was a welcome bit of heat amongst his usual cold, concrete sound, but “Trench P” is Potter at his best. When he kicked off the rollout, we had our suspicions, but we didn’t even know for certain that a mixtape was coming. “Trench P” told us that whatever he did next, he’d do it full steam and wouldn’t accept consolation prizes. “Probably why I’m famous and they still won't give me entry,” he spits. “The mandem said I really made the comeback of the century.” He’s brash, he’s boastful, the wordplay’s densely packed and Mason and Yung Swisher’s production is, by far, the most memorable on the tape. Like “Round Here” or “Filthy Free” or the “Topshottas Freestyle”, he’s got a belly full of fire on this one and he’s using it perfectly.

Mimi: On “My Auntie Gave Me A Legal Aid”, Potter showcases his storytelling skills by recounting personal experiences and observations within the context of his environment—he’s in his bag on this one. The track delves into themes of struggle, survival, and navigating the legal system, offering listeners a look into his life and the challenges that he’s faced. This is why Potter and his fans will forever be connected because he keeps the door open. His ability to paint vivid pictures with his words, coupled with his raw and emotive delivery, is why “My Auntie Gave Me A Legal Aid” takes it for me.

Biggest skip?

JP: To get Potter Payper’s full picture with his projects, each track lends itself to the next, so skipping one will only leave a crack in the canvas. Are some tracks better than others? Of course, but the question isn’t what’s the worst song—it’s what’s the biggest skip, and there are none. 

James: For me, it would have to be “Love Me How”. I like that Potter’s tried to do something a little different, but this just isn’t the kind of thing I’d go back to and revisit.

Mimi: There is hardly a track one would consider skipping, as each contributes uniquely to the overarching story. Potter’s tracks are like chapters in a book, where skipping one would leave the narrative incomplete. This speaks to the project’s immersive nature, inviting listeners to engage with each track fully, without skipping ahead.

Best thing about the project?

JP: It’s not so much to do with the music itself, but the fact that Potter’s released Thanks For Hating through his own record label, 36, is something that should be celebrated. Although he’s still working with 0207 Def Jam and EGA in some capacities, this is his stable, and he now has the freedom and the power to do what he wants, when he wants, and the support he’s already shown for his artists (most notably AB Sommerville) will bode well for him as he continues to go down this A&R/label boss route.

James: The hunger. If Thanks For Waiting was an expression of gratitude for everyone that showed support when he came out of prison, this is something different. Calling this new tape Thanks For Hating was more than just a pun. Setting aside the album, Real Back In Style, TFH is TFW’s direct sequel, and both perfectly describe his mindset at the time. He was grateful then, but that can only extend so far. It doesn’t matter if you agree that he deserves more credit (and most of us do), he’s done explaining himself, done waiting, and that impatience and indignation has lit a fire in him. You could hear it on Real Back In Style, but here he really lets loose. Leaving a major to go indie has to work; 36 has to work. I’m rooting for him, but I’m enjoying this era just as much as the prospect of a comfortable Potter who’s achieved all he set out to.

Mimi: The best thing about Thanks For Hating is Potter’s unwavering hunger and dedication to his craft. Despite the success of his 2023-released debut LP, Real Back In Style, Potter continues to push boundaries and evolve as an artist. His relentless drive ensures that listeners are treated to a project filled with authenticity and passion, solidifying his status as a formidable force in the British rap scene.

Worst thing about the project?

JP: Thematically, cohesively, everything is what it needs to be here.

James: Honestly, and I’m nitpicking here, but I’m not really a fan of Auto-Tune. When he uses it as a contrast against his gruffer deliver, that works better than it usually does, but overall as a tool, it’s really not my thing at all. But hey, credit to him for switching stuff up and throwing in some different flavours—it’s just not to my taste.

Mimi: While Potter’s projects always exceed expectations, some may approach TFH with preconceived notions based on his previous work. It’s important for listeners to understand that Potter has evolved since his Training Day trilogy mixtape days, and TFH represents a different phase in his artistic journey. I think that managing expectations is key to fully appreciating the growth and maturity reflected in Potter’s latest offering.

Best guest feature?

JP: Headie One on “59901R”. The melodic sung-hook! The final rapped verse! He gave the track a calmness that complements Potter’s greaze mode energy.

James: Slim, by a distance. Going into it, I thought Headie One’s guest spot would be my favourite, but “Drive By” has so much more energy and efficiency to it than the other collabs. (It’s also got my second favourite instrumental on the tape—another HoneywoodSix thumper.) This feels like two match-fit boxers sparring in a gym, ducking and diving, pushing each other to one-up. Fueled by the same all-or-nothing drive, this has everything you’d want from a team-up. They’re going bar-for-bar, swapping lines about stashing drugs and trying to get away with the latest hustle. Or, as Slim says in one of my favourite bars on the whole tape, “when they kicked my mum’s door, I had to flush the greeze / But I still landed on the wing eating custard creams”.

Mimi: Clavish’s guest feature on “Heads, Knees & Shoulders” stands out as a pleasant surprise, showcasing his versatility and chemistry with Potter. The synergy between the two is evident, elevating the track to new heights. But I also have to shout-out KayMuni for his contribution to “Free KayMuni”, and Marnz really showed out on “Free Double M”. So there you have it: 3 for 1.

Overall first impressions

JP: Lyrically, the tape lacks a bit of positivity—a bit of happiness! Life outside the penhouse is always a blessing, and I would’ve liked to have heard that be expanded upon, and why haters, in fact, don’t matter to him (they shouldn’t). Potter’s debut album, Real Back In Style—a street rap album—hit No. 2 while he was behind bars; he’s an award-winning artist, and he’s earned a pretty penny from this music thing. So while I can fully appreciate the theme of Thanks For Hating, I’m hoping that, from now on, he worries less about the haters and focuses more on the appreciators and the good things happening in his life. But basing it on the theme at hand and its execution, this is another win for the MOBO-winning wordsmith. 4/5

James: It’s a really great project and a great introduction to this new era of Potter. It’s his first full release on 36, so including one of the label’s signees—namely KayMuni—and a tribute to another, Double M, was a smart move, but my personal take is that 18 tracks is too long. Granted, this is a mixtape, so there’s always leeway on that front, but there are a few moments that would have landed with a greater impact if he’d cut the tracklist down, even by just 3 or 4 tracks. Apart from mixtapes affording you some breathing space on the tracklist, the other bonus for artists and (hopefully) listeners is that it’s a chance to take the kind of risks you wouldn’t normally gamble on with an album. To his credit, Potter seizes that opportunity. He varies up the subject matter, he drafts Nafe Smallz, Born Trappy and even Headie for some melody. He’s playing around with ideas, trying new things out, and that’s always going to be a net positive for me, whether I like the results or not. 4/5

Mimi: Thanks For Hating is yet another testament to Potter Potter’s raw authenticity and unwavering dedication to his craft. The project serves as a worthy sequel to Thanks For Waiting, reaffirming his position as a favourite amongst both fans and fellow artists alike. His ability to stay true to himself while evolving creatively ensures that TFH will resonate with listeners long after the final track fades. 4/5

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