The Return Of Potter Payper

MM got real with the Barking rapper about mental health, prison and his “2020 Vision”.

June 19, 2020 Rehana Harmony

Potter Payper. The unsung hero that was stripped from our musical ecosystem, has now re-emerged. First exploding onto the scene in the early 2010’s, the glasses wearing, hood donning MC instantly spun the game with an undisputed talent which subsequently saw him revered as nothing short of lyrical genius. Potter’s ability to candidly reel off hard-hitting bars that brim with an unmatched, emotive self-reflection, extended itself to the bodies of work which were left behind before completing a lengthy stint in prison. With the ‘Training Day’ chronicles, ‘Regina Vs Jamel Bousbaa’ and ‘24’ solidified as hood classics, the rapper is eager to resume his legacy and make some more.

At midnight, he marked his resurgence by surprising fans with a four-track tape and in true ‘Potter’ fashion he did not disappoint. Kicking off the project we receive a 5ive-production titled ‘Never Left’, a fierce statement from the artist that speaks to his legacy and authenticity. Then the title track dubbed, ‘2020 Vision Freestyle’ follows – a chilling real rap record led by a downbeat backdrop made up of standout instrumentation. Next is ‘Filthy Free’, a bold example of his heart-on-sleeve wordplay which deglamourises his lifestyle by serving a dose of social realism. Last but not least is the captivating RXR-produced ‘PMW’ – the rappers favourite track; a further lyrical exploration of street life. 

First of all, welcome back!

Thank you, thank you.

So jumping straight in, I wanted to get real with you and hear your thoughts on mental health. Male suicides are on the rise at the moment, and there’s a blatant disregard for tackling mental health still looming over the streets.

First of all, I’ll just say it’s definitely real, for anyone living a certain lifestyle and coming from the backgrounds that we come from; I feel like everyone suffers from some form of mental health issues, whether that be depression, anxiety or stress. We are all experiencing different levels of this type of stuff. Especially if you are in prison and you’re getting stripped naked, making you squat and they are looking in your private areas. You have no say over when you shit, sleep, eat, come or go. Obviously it does things to your mind, fam it’s all mad – people are losing their friends, people are dying, people are getting stabbed or shot. Just going through different levels of trauma and then carrying on like everything’s okay. 

What advice would you give to anyone who might be going through those experiences?

You have to embrace it and talk to people if you feel as though sh*ts getting on top of you. But that’s all I can really say because I’m still learning methods to even cope with this sh*t myself, to be honest. So, if any of my fans want to reach out to man, then reach out. Maybe I can give you some advice or speak to you personally; but what works for me, might not work for someone else.

You said you’re still learning to cope, would you say music is one of the methods that helps? 

100%, it works in many ways. From the writing to the expression of my feelings, being creative and then the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the level I’m at. It’s built my confidence. Being locked up fourteen time’s in my life, not having money and coming from nothing. It really beats up your confidence over the years, so coming back in 2020, with the mindset I’ve got; it’s really a testament to my craft and the fans, to the letters they’d send when I was in jail. To all the support, it really does go a long way.

So you must have wrote a lot while you were away? 

Yeah, a lot of the material I wrote won’t be using. Because, a lot of it is for that space and time, even in the new stuff you’ll hear me say ‘I’m banged up, I’m not performing,’ and that’s because I’m writing about my reality, but it’s not mine anymore. I want to put it behind me but there’s a part of me that thinks ‘yo, I need to let people hear how I was feeling and thinking.’ 

It was three years you know? That’s a long time. You go through a lot of emotions in one day fam, so imagine three years written down on bits of paper. Just waiting for people to hear it and I do hope that I have the energy, the confidence and the belief in myself to put all of it out. Because I know people are fans of my music, so I do need to be a bit more confident and not hold anything back. 

So, I watched the Noisey documentary you took part in. It stood out to me when you made that comment about seeing “bare ‘Potters’ on road”, since you started rapping. Because I do feel like this year, is the year of representation in terms of emerging artists who vary in different backgrounds – whether that would be their ethnicity or location. 

I think it’s time for everyone, I’ll be honest with you. Everyone’s doing so well, I’ve been outside of it looking in; thinking I want that. Everyone knows I can rap, I’ve been doing it for time but now I’m really trying to take it to a next level. 

What does the ‘next level’ look like for you? 

I would 100% be established, confirmed with no debates, hands down the best rapper in England. I’ve stayed 100 from the start till now, I’m not selfish with it either. I’ve helped a lot of man that are popping right now get to where they are. I do feel like I’ve done a lot for the scene; even down to influencing people’s styles to how they move and I don’t want to sound arrogant and be like ‘I influenced this guy and this guy’ – I’m just saying it’s gotta be my time now. You know that saying ‘something’s gotta give’? Well yeah, something’s gotta give. 

So I’m looking at chart success, I’m looking at domestic and maybe even international tours. Because I’m seeing a lot of reaction videos from America, I saw one last night to the new ting and he was saying how he understands me more than other rappers cos I’m a lot clearer and they gave good feedback. So the sky is the limit really, I don’t even know. I’m sure rappers like Stormzy or Dave, couldn’t even predict that they’d be living the life they are right now. 

What are your thoughts on the scene at the moment? 

Well when I was in prison I only really listened to the radio. So now I’m hearing all the Pop now, the music and our culture, it’s now Pop. That’s what everyone’s listening to, your D Block Europe’s, Yxng Bane’s – they are really paving the way for man to come through, because the way I see it is; if people have accepted them now, people are due to accept my thing. 

Even though you haven’t been out for that long, there must be some newcomers who have caught your attention?

I like Meekz, he is sick and I’m definitely gonna work with him. I like alternative music to my own because I make that type of music that makes you think and reflect, it gets you in your feelings. However, there’s a flip side to my life where I’m in my car and I want to chill out and turn up a bit. So I will listen to, Yxng Bane and an upcoming artist called RL – watch out for him. S Loud too, but yeah that’s it really. But I listen to a lot of US music aswell.

Who are you feeling at the moment? 

Same old, but I like Atlanta music. 

Not including ‘2020 Vision’, what track would you say best represents you as both an artist and a person? 

I’m just going to keep it a thousand, ‘Purple Rain’ is the blueprint for man. It’s the track that tells you who I am and was. I was in prison for three years again, I had been through a lot at that time. But what was special about the track is, I was writing and not expecting anyone to hear it. I wasn’t coming out thinking, I’m going to do this music thing. Back then it wasn’t like how it is now with everyone trying to do music, I was in jail in 2012 and it came out in 2013 with ‘Training Day’.

What record or project influenced you the most growing up? 

The Eminem, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ – confirmed. I remember sitting in my room smoking my cigarettes out my window just listening to Eminem swearing. 

How did you choose the four tracks for the new tape? 

Basically, since I’ve come out I’ve recorded like 30-40 tunes. I was recording not just for this tape, but to just build up man’s portfolio in general. So I had like 10 tracks in one folder, 15 in the other I picked through them. However, the ‘2020 Vision Freestyle’ was the first thing I recorded when I came out of prison, I literally came out of jail and went to the booth.

It was the first beat I had heard, the first bars I spat – so we thought it’s only right that I go with that, because of how organic it was. The others were good but they weren’t my hardest. So, we thought start off with this and when they get my other stuff they’re gonna be like ‘f*cking hell’.