I Used to Love H.E.R.

I Used to Love H.E.R.


On “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” the classic first single off his 1994 sophomore album Resurrection, Common Sense (who now goes by Common for legal reasons) tells the story of a girl he met as a kid with whom he eventually fell in love. Over the years, though, they have drifted apart due to the girl’s changing personas.

It isn’t until the very end of the song that Common reveals that he hasn’t been rapping about a girl at all, but using the phases of the woman’s life as a metaphor for the evolution of hip-hop.

In a 1995 interview on Yo! MTV Raps, Common talked about the theme of the song:

It’s about hip-hop music. H.E.R. stands for Hip-Hop in its Essence is Real. And all I’m talking about is how I first came into contact with hip-hop music and how it evolved into where it is now. And it’s like all these gimmicks going on, all the phoniness, ain’t nobody being real with it. Everybody’s stressing that it’s real but ain’t nobody being true to it. I think that came about because — once it started becoming a business, then people started losing their soul and they started looking at it, taking it more as a business than an artform.

This track incited a feud between Common and Ice Cube over a perceived diss to the West Coast corrupting hip-hop, causing Cube to diss Common on the Westside Connection track “Westside Slaughterhouse” in 1995 and leading Common to respond with his classic diss track “The Bitch in Yoo.”

Common’s manager Derek Dudley spoke about the decision to release “I Used To Love H.E.R.” as a single:

We picked it as a single because we felt like ‘Man, this song is going to grab everyone’s attention.’ We felt like this was the song we had to come out with at the time. It wasn’t like we thought it would give us the best chance at radio or anything like that. We just knew it was a song that would pull people’s heartstrings. One of those songs that would grab people emotionally more than anything. People just connected to it.

“I Used to Love H.E.R.” inspired several hip-hop metaphor tracks: Common was featured on The Roots' 1999 track “Act Too (The Love of My Life)” and Erykah Badu’s 2002 Grammy-winning single “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop).” In 2007, Kanye West produced and featured in the single “I Still Love H.E.R.” by the Teriyaki Boyz, and Murs created an updated version in 2010 with 9th Wonder called “I Used to Luv H.E.R. (Again)”

About.com named “I Used to Love H.E.R.” as the #1 hip-hop song of all time and The Source magazine included it on their list of The 100 Best Rap Singles of All Time.