Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Intricacies of "I Used to Love H.E.R"...past the words

Common's song, "I Used to Love H.E.R.", is a creative approach to discuss rap's evolution on the universal scale. He uses the analogy of the deterioration of hip-hop music (he feels that conscious hip-hop was in its demise at that time) with the gradual degradation of a once beautiful woman, to create a more personally relevant argument.  He begins the song with a flashback of him at ten years old, when he began to listen to hip-hop music. However, he does not refer to music once; he creates this vivid, but nameless character who he falls in love with at the start. He writes:"Eventually if it was meant to be, then it would be/because we related, physically, and mentally". He knew hip-hop back then, and formed an intimate bond with it because he respected it; hip-hop was not about the money, it was just about the music. He uses a form of double entendre, when he writes that she was "not about the money, no studs was mic checkin' her. Even though the whole song is of this form, this line was interesting: the woman persona he creates does not sell her self out and demands respect. Men checking her out is disrespect. Also, "mic checkin'" is something done when you perform at a certain venue, which shows that she did not care to make money from the music but just to make music.

He continues on with this analogy but now contends that there has developed a certain disconnect with the woman he once knew. Hip-Hop, which emerged partly due to Afrocentrism, was now lost and a new muddled form of braggadocio rap has emerged. He writes, "she said, afrocentricity, was of the past" and then that "she" "[stresses] how hardcore and real she is". This departure from true, conscious hip-hop seems to have aggravated Common. He laments over the change of the woman he once loved. Using the analogy between hip-hop and a woman works to create a more relatable microcosm of hip-hop so that its changes (deemed for the worst, by Common) are more personal and intimate.

The rhyme scheme enhances the story-like nature of the song and its meaning in two ways.

1)Common rhymes in couplets (sometimes, not so much) which makes the song sound more like a story (which it is) and makes the song sound slow, so that the listener soaks up every word.
2) As an ode to conscious hip-hop, which was often written in couplets(from the Book of Rhymes).

What is also interesting is the song sampling. Common samples "The Changing World" by George Benson which I deem is a perfect fit for the song. It has a smooth, slow tone and sounds fairly "old school". Also, the title of the sampled song fits with the major theme of "I Used to Love Her".

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