Song: I Used to Love H.E.R
If Change is the song that I live my life by - and it is - than no song better encapsulates my love of music, especially Hip Hop, than I Used to Love H.E.R.
Long before he teamed up with Kanye West and began gaining the kind of critical acclaim with his last two albums - 2005's Be and 2007's Finding Forever - Common was still known as Common Sense and he penned what to me is the greatest Hip Hop track ever. Seriously.
Quite simply, this song is timeless. Where a growing segment of today's hip hop is made up of one hit wonders and flash in the pan artists, so much so that Nas proclaimed Hip Hop is Dead, this song and this artist speak to the power of good music and what it means to have a connection to that music.
And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Google the song and see the list of praise this joint has gotten over the years. Or pop the movie Brown Sugar in your DVD player and watch as I Used to Love H.E.R is mentioned as the two main characters sit in Central Park reminiscing about the first time they heard some of the iconic songs in Hip Hop.
The connection between the movie and the song runs deeper than that though, as both personify Hip Hop, illustrating how it can become something so much more than just a genre of music, a sound and a culture. It becomes something you have a relationship with. It can become almost human.
For all the sharp lyrics and deft descriptions floated by Common throughout the track, it has always been the first few bars that hooked me:
I met this girl, when I was ten years oldShe has been there for me, as will be shown throughout this feature over the coming months, and I know that she always will be.
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
There is no catchy hook. There is no stylized beat produced with the purpose of hooking you in despite hollow lyrics and marginal skills. There is only Common, jazzy sample of George Benson's "The Changing World" and his open love letter to one of the most important people in his life...Hip Hop.
I Used to Love H.E.R. I still do and I always will.
* * * * *
Sorry I'm a day late... there was drinking that needed to be done last night.