Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Used to Love H.E.R.

You might find this hard to believe, but some hip-hop songs are really, really asexual. While hip-hop does deal a lot with sex, it's one of the most unromantic genres of music. Besides a few cases like "I Got You", hip-hop songs are usually, for lack of a better word, aromantic. Discussions of sex are usually so formulaic; hearing someone say "I want to touch your booty" (or whatever) has become the equivalent of "la la la". And then there's a song like "I Used to Love H.E.R.". Apparently, "H.E.R." stands for "Hip-hop in its essence and real". In the song, the woman mentioned is actually hip-hop. And it really touched a nerve. You'll see lovers-to-be trading rhymes from the song in the movie Brown Sugar, and you'll often hear a rapper riff off the "I'm committed" line. "I met this girl when I was 10 years old" suddenly became shorthand for this whole (pretty darn asexual) thing. Sex is used as a methaphor here, but isn't it the same for us? ("Sex is like chocolate cake/soccer/chandaliers/puppies etc) Even though I haven't had a crush on anyone for years, for some reason my favorite metaphorical explanation still seems to be: "So, say you have a crush on someone, and..." I'm not a big fan of Common in general, but I have to say, this particular song is a good one. It's long though, so here's the first verse:

I Used to Love H.E.R.
by Common

I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
Ont he regular, not a church girl she was secular
Not about the money, no studs was mic checkin her
But I respected her, she hit me in the heart
A few new york niggaz, had did her in the park
But she was there for me, and I was there for her
Pull out a chair for her, turn on the air for her
And just cool out, cool out and listen to her
Sittin on a bone, wishin that I could do her
Eventually if it was meant to be, then it would be
Because we related, physically and mentally
And she was fun then, I'd be geeked when shed come around
Slim was fresh yo, when she was underground
Original, pure untampered and down sister
Boy I tell ya, I miss her

I still remember (and this was years ago) sitting around with two friends. I mostly listened to hip-hop at the time, and another friend mostly listened to hard rock-type stuff. The third friend complained, "Why are all songs about love? It's SO ANNOYING!" or something along those lines. And we both replied, "You're listening to the wrong music!" If you're tired of birds suddenly appreaing every time so-and-so is near, luckily, you do have other options.

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