As gangsta rap emerged in the early '90s, rappers often degraded women in their lyrics, but LL Cool J (the "LL" stands for "Ladies Love") built a reputation as a tough rapper with a sensitive side who could appreciate a good woman. Here, he raps the praises of the local girls from the neighborhood who carry themselves with a swagger that he finds appealing. "It's an ode to the girl next door," LL said. "Just me riding around in the neighborhood, what I would see on a daily basis."
This was released a year ahead of litigation that would require artists to clear their samples, and the track takes parts of three different songs. The "Shook up, shook down..." part is from "All Night Long" by The Mary Jane Girls, with the sample pitched up. The drums come from "Impeach the President" by Honey Drippers, and "Risin' To The Top" by Keni Burke was also used.
Marley Marl (real name: Marlon Williams) produced the Mama Said Knock You Out album. He had previously worked with Eric B. & Rakim, where they often created tracks in a slower tempo that was typical of rap, which is what he did on "Around The Way Girl."
Marl started off as a block party DJ, but became a producer after bands would use his equipment to plug in. When these bands started showing up at his apartment to use his equipment, and he found himself engineering tracks, which expanded to production. He discovered drum sampling when he tried to sample a vocal and missed, getting the snare drum instead. When he played it back, he realized that he could create entire tracks out of drum bits from James Brown records.