Released on the 1994 album Resurrection, and considered to be one of the top Hip-Hop tracks of all time, “I Used To Love H.E.R.” samples “The Changing World” by George Benson. The song uses an extended metaphor, by having a young woman embody Hip-Hop music. The acronym “H.E.R” means “Hearing every rhyme”, therefore stating “I Used to Love Hearing Every Rhyme and also HipHop in its Essence is Real.
In the song, Common makes an analogy comparing the degradation of a woman with the deterioration of hip hop music after its commercial success forced it into the mainstream. The song speaks on the direction that hip hop music was taking during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It specifically refers to the fall of Conscious and Afrocentric rap; as well as the rising popularity of West Coast hip hop and G-funk.
There was one verse in particular that caught the attention of prominent Hip-Hop artist Ice Cube, and he interpreted it as a diss against the West Coast.
“Now periodically I would see
Ol’ girl at the clubs, and at the house parties
She didn’t have a body, but she started gettin’ thick quick
Did a couple of videos and became Afrocentric
Out goes the weave, in goes the braids beads medallions
She was on that tip about stoppin’ the violence
About my people she was teachin’ me
By not preaching to me, but speaking to me
In a method that was leisurely
So easily I approach
She dug my rap
That’s how we got close
But then she broke to the West Coast, and that was cool
Cause around the same time, I went away to school
And I’m a man of expanding, so why should I stand in her way
She probably get her money in L.A
And she did stud, she got big pub but what was foul
She said that the pro-black, was going out of style
She said, Afrocentricity, was of the past
So she got into R&B hip-house bass and jazz
Now black music is black music and it’s all good
I wasn’t salty, she was with the boys in the hood
Cause that was good for her, she was becoming well rounded
I thought it was dope how she was on that freestyle shit
Just having fun, not worried about anyone
And you could tell by how her titties hung”
This criticism ignited a feud with Ice Cube, which helped fuel the growing animosity between West and East Coast rappers, despite the fact that Common hailed from the Mid-West.
Ice Cube with the help of West Side Connection answered with “Westside Slaughterhouse”. But suprisingly,Common responded with “Bitch in Yoo”, which suprised and caught the attention of most Hip-Hop heads, because Common was never considered a “Battle Rapper. This counteraction instantly gave the Mid-Westerner street credibility.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Sowmya Krishnamurthy, which explains how this episode had a positive impact on Commons career.
“The beef shocked fans and Common’s lash out at the untouchable Cube helped him gain credibility as a force to be reckoned with. “People started respecting his grind a little bit more because he had heart enough to dis a boss!” remembers West Coast hip-hop staple DJ Quik. “Then you saw Common’s real side,” adds Bonsu Thompson, longtime journalist. “You saw the origins of Common like ‘nah I really do this battle thing.”