One of the most creative hip hop songs ever written , in my opinion, was “I Used To Love H.E.R.” by Common.
In the song, hip-hop is initially personified as a female of respectable character that Common met as a young boy and loved spending time with.
She was old school and I was just a shorty // Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me…..She was there for me and I was there for her // Pull out the chair for her, turn on the air for her and just cool out…Cool out and listen to her….
Like the cycle of life, interests and people change. This once highly respected female now had begun to stray from her foundation and began to frequent clubs and house parties. Then a sense of consciousness and afrocentrism became her schtick. As those phases passed, she begins to explore other interests.
“But then she broke to the West Coast and that was cool // Cuz it was around that time I went away to school // And I’m a man of understandin’, so why should I stand in her way? // She’d probably get her money in L.A. // She did stunts, got big pub but what was foul // She said that the pro-black was going out of style // She said Afrocentricity is of the past // Now she’s into R&B, Hip-House, bass and jazz….
Like all vulnerable people desperately trying to find their way, usually in one way or another they forsake their foundations, if one was ever present, they are commodified by shrewd opportunists. Such was the case with “her”.
I might’ve failed to mention that this chick was creative // But once the man got to her, he altered her native // Told her if she got an image and gimmick she could make money // And she did it like a dummy // Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal // She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle….Stressing how hard core she really is // She was really the realest before she got into show biz….
But what’s interesting is Common vows to redeem her from her wayward ways and purify “her” for himself. Looking at Common’s discography, I can’t say that he’s redeemed “her” as he claimed he would because he too is part of the unredeemed culture of hip-hop. Interestingly, NY emcee, Nas, expressed his sentiments that hip hop is dead on his album by the same title in 2006. Surveying the culture, Nas voiced his frustrations that hip hop was meaningless and lacked substance. I couldn’t agree more. How many more songs need to be made about violence, sexual immorality, drug use/selling, materialism, or gettin’ crunk. I think it’s very interesting when the secular culture can identify its own ailments. Essentially, Nas is looking for a resurrection of hip-hop. There is only one fit for such a loving task and He’s already started the redemption of hip hop through His people. Common and Nas would do well to read the book of Hosea.
Historically, hip-hop has been adept at social commentary, but very rarely offering solutions to ills poetically communicated from its soapbox. If Common and Nas would do a bit more research, they would truly find an answer to what’s wrong with “her” and then write about “her” Rescuer.
However, God has seen fit to raise up His messengers of hope who have more to say about “her” and how “she’s” been redeemed. It don’t stop!
Sho Baraka feat. J.R.
“We Can Be More”
Lions & Liars