This song paints a picture of the struggles for a young black kid in Common's native Chicago. It features Common's fellow Ch-town natives Lil Herb and James Fauntleroy of Cocaine 80s.
Speaking on a video posted on XXLMag.com, Common said Lil Herb added a unique perspective to the song. "'The Neighborhood' is - When I say that word it just makes me think of where I live and where I come from," he said. "And where a person comes from. And this song was really about - This is where I come from. This is the way I was raised. This is a place I've come from.
"And then I always thought about when we made the music," Common continued. "When we made that song it was like man, I wanted to hear somebody else's perspective. We knew that was gon' be the intro to the album. 'The Neighborhood' was. I wanted to hear somebody else's perspective on what the neighborhood was to them and where they come from."
"It happened to be Lil Herb point blank after No I.D. played me Lil Herb," the Chi-town rapper added. "I heard him and I kept listening to some of his other stuff. I was like 'This dude is raw.' And he was the perfect emcee, perfect artist to put on there. Cause he told his perspective in a cold way."
The song samples a few lines from Curtis Mayfield's 1970 dark tune "The Other Side of Town," in which the Chicagoan singer reflects on those who have it better the other side of the city. Its inclusion on this cut is an acknowledgement of how inner-city struggles carry on ad infinitum.