“I’m charged up,” Jamel Bousbaa—aka Potter Payper—tells Apple Music. “Getting released from prison wasn’t my release date; it was being able to put this music out. This is 10 years of my life, the highs and lows, prison sentences, losses…When people hear this, I want them to know that I put everything into it.” The 24-track Training Day 3 includes production from the likes of Westy, RXR, and M1OnTheBeat—and one sole feature, from longtime friend and collaborator, Mover. It also arrived just a few months after June’s 2020 Vision, the EP that dropped the day after he finished serving a three-year stint in prison.
Known for his hard-hitting raps, vivid storytelling and his lyrical prowess on several tempos, Payper’s talent for spitting chilling hood tales was realised on 2013’s Training Day—one of modern UK rap’s most revered mixtapes. “Music is like my therapy,” he says. “I used to MC when I was young, grime, rap, whatever. People took me in for my raps, they felt the authenticity. I’ve had a different journey to other [white] rappers; people don’t pay attention to me because of my colour. They pay attention because I’m something different, my life is an example of that.” Around 80% of Training Day 3 was recorded during his incarceration—a period where UK rap took over the British mainstream. “I’d catch the BRIT Awards in my cell and see people like Dave on the stage,” the Barking native says. “It’s our artists dominating now. In a lot of the tracks I talk about jail because that’s where I was at the time. It’ll never leave me because it drives my will to do better. I want to show people that I can do this properly, so I see this as the bridge that will propel me to where I want to be in the game.” Here, the MC breaks down the most significant tracks from what he considers his most important project yet.
Sorry “'First let me apologise for my absence/When you’re rapping what you’re living that’s what happens.’ The first line just sets the tone. It’s a genuine apology to the fans—and to myself! RXR made that beat, I feel like the beat and the lyrics just catch you as soon as you hear this one.”
A6586AM “[Yeah] that’s my prisoner number, bro. If you’ve ever been inside or spoken to anyone in that situation, when you get into a fight inside, you get a ‘nicking’. You state your name and prison number to the governor and plead your case. Anyone who has been in that situation is reloading that track! Those are real-life situations that people can attest to. 5ive produced that one and a few others on the tape. Rappers talk about they were this and that in jail, I was inside for three and a half years and never got a scratch.”
Round Here “M1[OnTheBeat] came different on that beat there, it doesn’t sound like a drill tune. With ‘Round Here’ I just feel like I was setting the tone with the first line. I’m a rapper so I’m looking at the game with a different eye; people follow the culture but are forgetting the deeper things. Instead of calling guys rap liars, I had to come out of that mindset of calling them out. I just state that we don’t listen to the now.”
Science “Sevaqk laced that one. As soon as I heard that beat, it gave me West Coast vibes. That’s why I came in like: ‘Stepped in, that’s my darg and my bredrin/and we ain’t answering no question’. It’s fucked, near the end of the track I say, ‘Cocaine and ammonia, it’s just science’ and that basically outlines the process. That’s why I laugh when rappers say they whip the pot, it’s embarrassing.”
Years Deep “My producer and engineer Chucks produced this one. This is one of my favourite tunes on the whole tape; there’s a deep message there. I’m years deep in this ting and people are only taking me in now! Certain lines that I might have said in a freestyle years, people are only clocking onto now, so that’s where my mind was when I made this.”
Frank White “You have to turn this one up when you play it! S Finesse produced this but he messed up by sending the beat to both me and Fredo. Shout out Fredo for letting me use the beat—even though you’ve probably heard it from his Daily Duppy on GRM.”
Slumdog Millionaire “80% of the project was written when I was in jail, and this is one the songs I wrote in there. Chucks did a madness on it—the sample makes it sound romantic, like a girl tune but I ain’t talking about anything sweet on that. When you hear my voice break on that song, you’ll feel that. I was swinging until I had nothing left; that’s the one that’s gonna make people say Potter deserves his flowers. The wordplay, the bars, the passion, it’s all there.”
Green District “This is 10 years of my life, 15 different jails, three prison sentences. I’ve put a lot of myself into this trilogy, particularly this tape. Who else in the game is gonna give you a 24-track tape with one feature? I’ve been holding it up, spitting straight bars for years. The detail I put in my raps put you right in the room. I don’t glorify this life: you hear about the social issues whether it be abuse, violence, having no Ps. Eventually I want to sit down and write a book. I don’t wanna be one of those that doesn’t give back when I’ve made it.”
Far “This is a cold tune produced by 5ive—this is actually the mandem’s favourite. I didn’t really want this one on the tape, it’s weird. When I’m in the studio, I’ve got the bars in my head just rapping along to the beat. It’s when I hear the bridge that I felt I had to adjust; it’s like I had to make a hook out of a bar. That goes past rap, that’s on some old-school hip-hop shit.”
Bando Embassy “Westy put something extra in that beat. That beat is hard, fam. The beat is like my bed but the sample is like the upholstery, the goose feather quilt that makes it real plush. ‘My friend killed my friend/I can’t trust nobody so duck it don’t check for me/unless you’ve got a cheque for me’—there’s a lot being said on that.”
Beggars & Choosers “Like, what other choice did man have in life? I would rather be a gangster or a rapper than live on my knees. Cage sent me this beat. No line on the tape sticks out to me more than: ‘Nobody gets me but they all say they got me'”.
Real Rapper “I flipped it on this one. Everyone says they love a real rapper but the minute something happens—whether it’s jail or worse—the fans are always the first to criticise when a real rapper’s life catches up with them. Thinking back to that period [the public Rick Ross vs Jeezy], there was a rapper that went through that stuff and came out of it better, that was Gucci Mane. They say they want a real rapper but I saw a real rapper get life and hug his sister with a smile on his face. That man is Money Mover.”
When I Was Little “That track is basically my childhood outlined. I didn’t wanna be no doctor or lawyer, I just wanted to get the kicks that my nan wouldn’t cop for me. RXR produced this one. I had a few producers on the tape but I would consider RxR, Westy and Chucks my [main] team of producers. I was in the cell for two hours with a pen and a zoot, having a conversation with the fans on that one.”
Streets (feat. Mover) “I had it in my mind for years that I was gonna make this tape. That’s the only tune I made for the album before I went prison, I had that saved for the album for time. It was important for him to be on this project because there’s not gonna be a Training Day 4. The reception to this track will determine whether or not we will put out a joint EP together, but we will see. Westy produced that one and a couple others on the tape.”
Learn “LemOnTheBeat made that beat. On the outro, I just had to tell the people what it really is. ‘Make sure you learn from you mistakes/and make sure you learn from my mixtapes’ isn’t just a hard bar. I’m not glorifying this life, I’m rapping what I live. I don’t want people to pick up the mistakes I made, I want to help them do better. Show them that they don’t have to take this route.”