Hip-hop belongs to the world. No form of music shakes the globe any harder. But hip-hop is also hyper-regional. If you’re an emcee, no matter how wide your vision is, you’re still expected to put on and represent your block, your community, and your neighborhood. That’s something that B. West understands instinctively. He’s got music that’s catchy and swaggering enough to connect with hip-hop fans in all nations. But when those hip-hop fans listen to his verses, what they’ll find are specific, poetic, lovingly crafted descriptions of the joys and hardships of his upbringing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — a city that has always been central to the larger story of hip-hop.
“The Narrative,” his street-shaking new single, is nothing short of B. West’s life story, rendered in rhyme and delivered with the conviction and good humor that the rapper has become locally famous for. Since it’s an autobiography, you can expect plenty of Philly content. West raps about his youth in the raw but beautiful neighborhoods on the north side of town, reminisces about childhood games and adolescent pastimes, and lets us know exactly how a grown-up Philadelphian spends his days.