Filed under: Not Your Average,The Unkut Opinion
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
There have been so many shitty trends over the course of hip-hop’s relatively brief life-span that it’s tough to pin-point the worst. Novelty dances named after comedians? The Roxanne wars? Weed songs? Love ballads? Tracks titles including the words “Represent: or “Keep It Real”? Nah, it has to be that tired old “Hip-hop music = a hot chick” concept. Should I just blame Common? As much as I’d like to, I’m not sure if he was the first to record the idea to wax (let’s assume he wasn’t), but “I Used To Love H.E.R.” was certainly one of the most celebrated incarnations of this oh-so-clever metaphor. Shit, even Ice Cube caught feelings over it and took a shot at Chicago’s favourite son on the first Westside Connection album (which in turn led to Mr. Sense serving O’Shea the ethering of a lifetime with “The Bitch In Yoo”).
Sure, it could be argued that several of these love letters to rap have actually been pretty good when judged on their own merits. MF Doom‘s “The MIC” and Tragedy‘s “Deja Vu” both work, but this is more of a testament to the abilities of Metal Face and The Intelligent Hoodlum that they’re able to use such a hackneyed theme and still win. Back to the Common version – the acronym used in the title should set off the alarm bells all by itself. “Hip-Hop in it’s Essence and Real”. Huh? While the track is widely hailed as a “classic” song, there are a few points about it that bother me. It’s not the tune itself which is the problem, as both the beat and the lyrics are effective, but rather the awful trend it inspired.
Thanks to “I Used To Love H.E.R.”, we’ve had to endure Erykah Badu‘s “The Love of My Life” and The Roots “Act Too (The Love Of My Life)”, plus countless other copy-cats that I’d rather forget. Com might also be held responsible for the much of the holier-than-thou “back-packer” mind-set that plagued the late-90’s rap underground (De La Soul‘s “Stakes Is High” is equally guilty). Instead of concentrating on making dope records, it became all the rage to make cheesy declarations that hip-hop had become “impure” and overly commercial. There’s no denying that there was some super gay music released at the time, but making lame “anti-jiggy” and “no more gangsta rap” songs didn’t exactly help matters, and was part of the reason that back-packers became stereotyped as whinging hippies. If rap really was a girl she would’ve dumped you lames long ago.
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