They Used To Love H.E.R.: Valentine's Day Cards To Hip-Hop

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I Used To Love H.E.R. Album coverBack in 1994 when Common dropped “I Used To Love H.E.R.” who knew that he’d inspire so many artists to confess their love to hip-hop?

With the single from One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Common elevated hip-hop to a metaphorical woman whose name stood for “Hip-Hop in its Essence and Real” (even though Hearing Every Rhyme is a popular interpretation as well). Producer No ID (who recently cranked out “D.O.A” for Jay-Z) built the beat around a  jazzy loop of George Benson’s “The Changing World” and VH1 ranked it # 69 in the 100 greatest rap songs of all time.

Common, “I Used To Love H.E.R.”

George Benson, “The Changing World”

Over the years many MCs have borrowed from the template having hip-hop embody this metaphorical woman in various ways.  Some of the relationships have fared better than others, with some MCs breaking up with her, one actually raping the music and others even killing her off. But after all of the abuse S.H.E is still standing.

The Pharcyde “For Better Of For Worse”
This predates Common’s ode by three years but it’s only Trey’s first verse that outlines his intentions to marry  “Rhymealinda” who  he dreams of having kids with named Mike (Mic) and feeding them beats.

Quotable: “To Rhymealinda I remember umm, when we first met
In eighty-two back in school used to play up all the fools
Sometimes you’d be my number fives sometimes you’d be my twenty-two

The Roots feat. Common – Act too (Love of my life)

The Roots ?uestlove insisted this was not the “daughter” to Common’s original but with Lonnie Lynne on the track it was hard not to see it that way.

Quotable: Used to hit up every corner store wall for you
We ripped shit, and kept it hardcore for you
I remember late nights, steady rockin the mic
Hip-Hop, you the love of my life

Masta Ace ft. Jean Grae – Hold you

One of the more inventive odes, Masta Ace vows love to his microphone. After his confessions we get to hear from the microphone voiced by Jean Grae who weaves the language of the Sennheiser into her very verse.

Quotable: “and there’s still cats who try to touch me when they spot me alone
try to tap me just to see if I’m turned on
but it’s the way you speak to me
its like we on the same frequency and when you hold me, you make peak come on

Jean says: “was nervous as hell. Most people still don’t get that I’m a mic. Subtlety overload on my part.”

Slaughterhouse, “Cut You Loose”
Royce, Joe Budden, Joel Ortiz and Crooked I have had enough of her cheating heart and kick H.E.R. to the curb.

Quotable: How you could thug me?
If I can’t be me when I’m wit’chu, tell me how could you love me?
(How you) Get so ugly – eat it, beat it, treat it better than niggaz
so you still be dyin to fuck me, baby don’t interrupt me!

Tanya Morgan, “She’s Gone”

Donwill, Von Pea and Ilyas (with a little help from Phonte) pour their hearts out–and then a little liquor–offering a heartfelt eulogy for their lady love.

Quotable: “I thought she was too innocent for relations/ until she introduced me to electric relaxation…”

Donwill Says:“… the is actually about the death of brick an mortar record stores. one day while out in Cincinnati I took Von on a driving tour of the city. And I drove past a record store I grew up shopping at was closed. The store was called Kipps Record Arcade and it was a BIG part of my life. Goin up there every tues/thurs to get releases. Goin in to pick up the weekly/monthly release schedule. And on an even deeper level the comradery of me and my friends planning all week and looking forward to going to the store and debating who was gonna buy what so that we could make dubs… upon thinking deeper about it it was kinda like finding out a girl you were in love with had died or moved on without a trace.

Pharoahe Monch, “Rape”

In easily the most extreme interpretation Pharoahe Monch literally rapes hip-hop music in his macabre track from his solo debut, Internal Affairs.

Quotable: Grab the drums by the waistline
I snatch the kick, kick the snares and sodomize the bassline
Never waste time, I give the verse rabies
Cum on the chorus, tell the hook to swallow my babies

J-Live, F/ Asheru & Probe DMS “Kick It To The Beat”

On his debut The Best Part, J-Live shares how he’d “push-up” on the beat if she was a girl in the street..
Quotable:”I wanna lay you down with nothing but your two-inch reels on/then make a strong song that’ll last real long…”

Erykah Badu ft. Common – Love Of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)

Com Sense got his then baby boo to remake his classic for the Brown Sugar soundtrack. This marks the first time hip-hop was referenced as a dude.
Quotable: How could it be that it was/All just so simple then/A teenage love but you say
He’s just a friend…

Nottz, “I Still Love You.”

Rapper/producer Nottz draws inspiration from J-Dilla’s “Love U” from Donuts, which sampled Jerry Butler’s “Because I Love You.” Nottz gives Hip-Hop the name of Roxanne Shante after the iconic female MC.

Quotable: “I met this girl when I was about 10/ I used to love H.E.R but we still friends/”

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