For artists like Yo Gotti, Troy Ave and Philadelphia’s Gillie Da Kid, the tools of the new millennium (curating a web presence; cultivating a rollicking fan base) have been hard won beacons of light after years of grinding. In Gillie’s case, his name had previously been circulating since the late 90s on the Philly mixtape scene, and his journey included a few nixed album deals. More recently, he’s been embroiled in his share of issues, beef and controversy with most notably Lil Wayne. Still, Gillie hasn’t wavered in his focus on creating East Coast-inspired hustler music. Welcome 2 Gilladelphia marks a debut in which he soars at converting his mixtape charisma over to his first full-length project, though only partially.

Much like his contemporaries, Gille Da Kid knows well enough to stick to the script that has gotten him this far: harping on the fast life, detailing how he’s risen from the gutter, giving glimpses of his gritty upbringing, and a healthy dose of stunting. It makes Welcome 2 Gilladelphia translate into the overall portrait of a hustler’s ambitions peppered with choice topics to keep things flowing on a specific, block-inspired path. Granted, moments like the swaggering “Bout Da Life,” and the standard money-on-my-mind structure of “We Goin Win” are expected. Yet they are balanced and contrasted by a song like “Not Ready To Go,” with its piano-layered production and realism. Each song is proof that Welcome has the potential to be as diverse as possible, even when Gillie conforms so closely to his blueprint.

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Adhering to his hustler credo is when Gillie shines the brightest. And, on the stark bleakness of “Born King,” Ab Liva and Big Ooh assist him in painting a rough picture of young men finding their way in an asphalt jungle. Later, Gillie enlists everyone’s favorite coke rapper in Pusha T on one of the album’s strongest moments in “Tryna Get Me One.” One of the primary functions of the street rapper, in this day and age, is cultivating an air of respect and loyalty amongst a fan base that doesn’t necessarily flood the Internet with conviction, and Gillie knows exactly how to do so through the music on Welcome with the previously mentioned tracks, as well as the smoothed out, braggy two-step joint “Single,” the ladies jam “Tattoo” with Jeremih and the gentlemanly yet gangster affluence of album closer “Blow My High.”

And yet, with all that the album has going for it, there remains the fact that the sounds on the album air toward the old Eastern corridor chimes of the Dipset era, but without its menacing, chaotic soul. They lack the gritty cohesion of sinister hi-hats or the pounding baselines necessary to elicit an emotional response. Gillie has made sure to save some of his best work for this introduction to a wider audience, but in spots it sounds unfocused, a hodgepodge of decent-to-just-okay songs. That said, Welcome 2 Gilladelpia still carries with it an air of respectable, solid street music from a veteran artist who is clearly taking advantage of the doors that have been kicked wide open for emcees of his ilk.