After a recent listen to Brownsville, Brooklyn rapper I.O.D.’s “’Round Here,” it reminded me of a discussion I overheard at an old job. In the midst of co-workers talking about where they were from, one asked “why do (some) people take pride in how tough their neighborhood is?”
His curiosity always stuck with me as a quintessential example of cultural misunderstanding.I didn’t know my co-worker (or care to know him) enough to speak to him, but I’ve always resolved that having a village to confide in during moments of trauma, stress and achievement fosters a sense of community. Coming of age in a “tough” neighborhood can instill immense pride. It’s the kind of pride I heard on “’Round Here,“ an ode and reflection on I.O.D.’s upbringing in Brownsville.
A surface listen to the track could sound like “tough” posturing to some listeners, but as I.O.D. explained at his recent Sony RED showcase, his “don’t come to my hood if you niggas is not from around here,” demand is just as much about greedy developers and gentrifiers as it is anyone else.
I.O.D. navigates thumping 808s, misty hi-hats and sinister lead melody at breakneck pace, speeding and stopping his labyrinthic lyricism at the drop of a snare. He reflects on the culture and circumstance that shaped his evolution from a kid with “innocent eyes” to a sharp-tongued MC with a “pot of gold in my conscience.”
“Hit a driveby then I get some halal, then I hit this biddy that I call Nicki Minaj,” I.O.D. narrates. A day in the life.
The release date for I.O.D.’s forthcoming The Brownsvillain project is yet-to-be-determined.
You can stream “‘Round Here” below.