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In 1994, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., aka Chicago-born rapper Common, released his LP Resurrection, and his single  “I Used to Love H.E.R.” became one of hip-hop’s greatest recordings. ‘H.E.R.’ is an acronym for ‘Hearing Every Rhyme,’ which transforms the title of the song to “I Used To Love Hearing Every Rhyme”. The song samples its jazzy beats from ”The Changing World” by George Benson and is an extended metaphor that uses the degradation of a woman to represent the changes Common saw in hip-hop music in the ‘90s.

Common made his name by creating socially and politically conscious hip-hop, often deconstructing the genre itself. The beginning of “I Used to Love H.E.R.” sounds like a song about a woman he used to know and love. In 1982, Common “met this girl when he was ten years old”. By the early ’80s, The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” had introduced hip-hop to the mainstream, and rap had become a powerful means of providing a voice for the ’80s brewing racial tensions.
The end of the song makes it clear that as hip-hop became more commercial in the ‘90s, there was a notable decline in conscious and Afrocentric rap . Common raps: “Now she’s a gangsta rolling with gangsta bitches/ Always smoking blunts and getting drunk/ Stressin’ how hardcore and “real” she is / She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz”.
Of course, hip-hop has evolved since the ‘90s, and it’s only fitting that Common was also a mentor to a young Kanye West. West would later sample a line from “I Used To Love H.E.R.” in his song “Homecoming,” using a lost girlfriend to describe his feelings for his hometown, Chicago.
We know it’s a little early for a throwback, but we’re making it a throwback Tuesday, so give Common’s “I Used To Love H.E.R.” a good listen.

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