EWA100 - #35. Common Sense - I Used To Love H.E.R.

35. Common Sense - I Used To Love H.E.R. (Relativity. 1994. From the LP Resurrection)

Raven Mack:
There are two bookmarks on my attitude towards Common formerly with Sense... The ending one is where I'm at now where I see him in every other commercial about Gap AIDS block parties in gentrified districts of nondescript Advertising Age cities that I imagine the Huxtables might've bought a few rowhouses in, and I invariably make a joke about how Muhammad has thrown him off the mountain. Used to be I would make a joke about how Erykah Badu's vagina poisons great rappers, but Common's far enough removed from greatness that doesn't resonate so much with me. And on the front end of the bookmarks of Common was when I got a free copy of his Can I Borrow A Dollar? tape from the record store because we spent mad money up in that joint on singles so they'd give me cut-outs and throw-away tapes for free. The Source had hyped me up to Common Sense cleverish creativity, so I had high hopes. Can I Borrow A Dollar? was a piece of shit, and to this day, is one of only two musical purchases I listened to briefly then threw against a wall to stomp into pieces (the other was Ice-T's Home Invasion, which I bought on vinyl and was a lot of fun to break, using it like a frisbee against the cinderblock walls of my mom's basement).
However, even after I was full of "whatever" towards Common Sense, the remix of "Soul By The Pound" that got heavy play on Rap City was fuckin' awesome, and hinted at the for-real clever connecting snidbits of this and that he would later exploit to a larger extent on Resurrection.
And see, that's the thing with Common. As much as I can't stand his fake-ass public service announcement neo-soul ass music nowadays, Resurrection would be high on my list of greatest hip hop albums ever. As someone who halfway considers themselves a lyricist of a shitty sort, Resurrection sort of shifted how I looked at doing lyrics, which has only really happened maybe two or three times in my stupid lyrical life from an outside source. Mostly, you get that shit internally or just soak up all the crap you get into over time; but Resurrection was a tape that flat out had me going, "Oh shit, you can be like that?" This was the big single off that album, and you know the story by now how it's equating his love with hip hop with being in love with a girl (which is terribly funny now that Common owns cocker spaniels... see? I'm always doing that shit with him).
At some point last year, I sold a bunch of old singles by people I felt no allegiance to anymore on ebay, and I had both my "Soul By The Pound" and "I Used To Love H.E.R." singles in the pile of shit to sell, and I think I actually sold the first one to some dude in Canada who was buying up all my shit - everything from Common to King Tee, and when I mailed it away, it sort of scared me into pulling back on this single, which I still have, and still bump from time to time. As much as Common has changed in ways that don't satisfy my punkass expert whiteboy attitude, if you take his point from the "Soul By The Pound" remix through Resurrection through his "Bitch In Yoo" dis/ownership of Ice Cube during their little verbal circle jerk, and maybe even into parts of Someday It'll All Make Sense, that's a seriously great chunk of a MC being pretty goddamned good.
Oh Common, why can't you love h.e.r. again? Why did you get so gay? (When I say gay, I don't mean in the fulfilling homosexual tendencies way where two people of a like gender make each other happy and satisfied; I mean "gay" in the sense of stupid and not all alpha'd up. So don't get all riled up at me. Save that for the argyle sweater vest crowd at the coffeehouse a couple blocks from Whole Foods, where I'm sure everybody loves them some Electric Relaxation.)

Mike Dikk: I was never really enamored with Common. After a while, I forgot why I never liked him, then a few months ago, I saw his first music video and noticed he did some kind of gimmick rapping where he would make his voice squeak like a boy going through puberty and then I remembered that’s what set it off, and I never really looked back after that.
I don’t know when the first time I heard “I Used to Love H.E.R.” was. There’s a good chance it was years after it was initially released. There’s no doubt that it’s a tremendous song and easily deserves to be on this highly reputable list, but at the same time, at least 50% of the reason I voted for this song was because it was the catalyst for “The Bitch in Yoo”, which is probably one of the greatest dis songs ever written.
“I Used to Love H.E.R.” is a truly beautiful song and at the time it was a completely unique idea to look back at rap music and write a love song about it. Somehow Ice Cube misinterpreted the song all together and felt insulted by Common. I have a feeling it was more of a case that Ice Cube saw an easy target in Common and wanted to flex his macho studio gangster muscles for a minute. Ice Cube was also no stranger to dis songs, as he wrote “No Vaseline”, which is one of the few dis songs that could be considered better than “The Bitch in Yoo”. Unfortunately for Cube, he was already too far into directing Color Me Badd videos to really put the boots to Common.
At the same time, I really doubt anyone expected Common to be this crazy battle rapper out for blood. Even with my lack of interest in Common at the time, I knew he was kind of a Nancy, and if there ever was a figurative David vs. Goliath battle in rap music, this was it, unless you count all those jobbers that came at Eminem when that was the in thing to do.
It would be very hard to find another dis song that basically obliterated another rapper’s entire career within the span of four minutes. Of course Cube went on to make more subpar music, but I think “The Bitch in Yoo” really hurt him. I’m sure it didn’t hurt his bank account or the nice house he lives in or anything, but I’d like to think he sat in his bedroom alone one night and thought long and hard about what Common said and maybe cried a little.
Anyway, “I Used To Love H.E.R.” is what just about every current nostalgic rap song is based off of, and every once in a while I think about how I should probably listen to the record that song came from, but I never get around to it. On a different note, If they ever greenlight a Marvin Gaye biopic, I don’t see how Common couldn’t get that job. He even wears those silly little knit hats sometimes.

Download: Common - I Used To Love H.E.R.

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