Horace Sprott performed on Volumes 2, 3, and 4 of folklorist Frederic Ramsey, Jr's Music of the South series of field recordings released in 1955 on Folkways. 'Ain't This a Mean World' pulls together tracks from all three of these volumes.
Ramsey Jr. met Sprott in Marion, Alabama in 1954 and subsequently recorded seven sessions with him in April and May of that year. Born some time between 1886 and 1890 in Talladega Forest, Alabama, Sprott learnt the old religious songs of the bush arbor and the plantation from his mother and grandmother, and from his father, the "worldly songs" that religious people refused to sing. These are the songs that are preformed by Sprott, mostly unaccompanied and at times combined with short discussion, on these rough and ready field recordings.