Philly’s G. Love has always shown just as strong an affinity for the Blues as he has for Hip-Hop, so it seems only naturally that he would find his way down south to Mississippi, the cradle of the Delta Blues, as inspiration for a record.
On Philadelphia Mississippi, Love bridges both genres with the help of some pretty impressive guests from both states and the result is mostly satisfying. For the record, he trekked down to Mississippi to record with North Mississippi Allstar’s Luther Dickinson (not the first time Love has had a Dickinson produce one of his records, as Luther’s father Jim produced one of his earliest albums). The opening track, which brings in Philly Hip Hop legend Schoolly D as well as Chuck Treece and Trenton Ayers, sets the table perfectly, melding impressive, Blues-soaked guitar over some truly brilliant vocal runs. The same can be said for “Mississippi,” with vocal help from Arrested development’s Speech, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and RL Royce. But the album loses steam on the unnecessarily goofy “My Ball.” Thankfully, Love and his guests find the plot again shortly after and finish the album on a couple of high notes, like “Sauce Up!,” (with help from Trenton Ayers) and “The Philly Sound.”
Explaining the concept behind this record, Love said, “I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but I’ve spent my entire life steeped in the music of the Delta, so the idea that there was this whole other Philadelphia down there always fascinated me. For the last thirty years, I’ve wanted to make a pilgrimage—not just a musical one, but a spiritual one—to the heart of the blues, and that’s exactly what this album is.”
And far from being a just another musical lark or forced concept record, the blending of the two genres so deftly works well here, in part because Love has spent the better part of his nearly three-decade career playing homage to both genres. At more than a dozen tracks, there are a few songs here that, at least lyrically, fall short, but overall Philadelphia Mississippi is a bold musical experiment that pays off.