Produced by: No I.D.
Common: “I can remember when Dion gave me the beat for ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.’ I heard that and I was overwhelmed. I loved it. I was sitting at home at one night with my boys Murray and ‘Te. Biante. We were up late night. I was drinking they were smoking weed.
“They were talking about something, I can’t remember what, but my mind start drifting and I remember having that thought really quick about hip-hop being a girl while they were talking. When they left that night, I put the beat on and started thinking about if hip-hop was a woman and I started writing that song.
“The next time I was going to the studio, I was going to record it. My roommate Rassan was in the studio while I was recording. While I was recording I was looking at him and he was drinking a Heineken—we would always order pizza and some Heinekens. I was sitting in the studio rapping ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.’
My roommate Rassan was in the studio while I was recording the song. I can see him from the booth, he’s sitting there shaking his head, sipping, and frowning as I’m doing it. He thought I was talking to a woman. I got to the last line, ‘Who I’m talkin’ ’bout y’all? It’s hip-hop,’ and soon as I said it, he threw his hands up and was grabbing his head like, ‘Oh, shit! I can’t believe this!’ - Common
“We was at that stage where doing a love song was like, ‘Nah, it’s bros before hoes. What are you talking about doing a love song?’ [Laughs.] So, I’m rapping this song and it’s a love song to Rassan. I can see him from the booth, he’s sitting there shaking his head, sipping, and frowning as I’m doing it. He thought I was talking to a woman. I couldn’t wait to drop it on ’em!
“I got to the last line, ‘Who I’m talkin’ ’bout y’all? It’s hip-hop,’ and soon as I said it, he threw his hands up and was grabbing his head like, ‘Oh, shit! I can’t believe this!’
I walked [out of the booth] and he’s like, “Whoa, man! My nigga, you are incredible! Play that again!’ I remember that for sure. That made me feel good. [Laughs.]
“When I did the hook, I was just going, ‘Yes, yes, y’all! And ya don’t stop!’ That’s why you can hear me going, ‘Check it on, check the mm-mm mm,’ because I didn’t have anything. I was just chanting and it came out. I didn’t think twice.
“I didn’t know too much about really making good hooks. It was just whatever thought come at that point. Then, we scratched some of the hooks. I grew up on Gang Starr and Pete Rock, stuff like that. That’s what was on their choruses, so that’s what we did.”
No I.D.: "‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’, from a production standpoint, was a brainchild of the style I developed on ‘Soul By The Pound.’ I had a bassline sound that I would play with the SP1200—it just had a certain sound and a feel to it. I was really into the melodies of the George Benson sample [‘The Changing World’], but I wanted to make it harder with that bassline.
After this record came out, I started to get calls from other artists inquiring about production. Before that I never got calls like that. I’d get a call like ‘Biggie wants a beat’ and I’d be blown away. It was a foreign concept to me. Biggie, Pun, Ghostface—I’d never got calls like that before. - No I.D.
“Common came with this incredible story, which at the time we had no idea would be so revered. Common and Twilite Tone talked about the concept before he talked to me about it. My role was refining it into a song, orchestrating the musical changes, and helping Rash structure the bars—making sure he rapped on beat.
"But once he had the rap in his head, it was just a matter of making it come across the best. I give him full credit on that one. It definitely wasn’t a thing where I said ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea, do this.’
“We shot the video in Chicago. We actually shot two or three videos before it came out right. The version that the world saw was actually the third version, after we wasted a ton of money on the first two. [Laughs.]
“I felt like ‘Soul By The Pound,’ started to get us to the next level but ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ catapulted us all the way over. It was way more revered. We were respected with ‘Soul By The Pound’ but it was ‘Oh my God this is something special!’ with ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’
After this record came out, I started to get calls from other artists inquiring about production. Before that I never got calls like that. I’d get a call like ‘Biggie wants a beat’ and I’d be blown away. It was a foreign concept to me. Biggie, Pun, Ghostface—I’d never got calls like that before. That’s the first time when I thought ‘Maybe I’m onto something here.’”
The Twilite Tone: “First of all, let me give all of the credit and accolades to Rashid and Dion [No I.D.] for coming up with that song. My involvement with this song is either coincidental or influential—people that’s close to me know that I was developing a song before I’d heard ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ called ‘You Are My Music’ which was the exact same premise.
I was such a competitor. I was competing with Rash as a rapper and with Dion as a producer. I would always say ‘My shit is better. That shit’s cool, but my shit’s better.’ [Laughs.] It was just like that. We had a competitors’ spirit amongst each other. - The Twilite Tone
“Then I heard ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ and I was like ‘Oh snap, he beat me to the punch!’ I don’t even remember if we ever talked about that, or if that was a bone of contention, but I was working on the same song at the same time. It was so crazy.
But when I heard Rash’s, I thought it was amazing. At the time, though, I was such a competitor. I was competing with Rash as a rapper and with Dion as a producer.
"I would always say ‘My shit is better. That shit’s cool, but my shit’s better.’ [Laughs.] It was just like that. We had a competitors’ spirit amongst each other.”
Derek Dudley: “At the time we had no idea this record would be something people would be talking about 20 years later. ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ was that song that solidified Common in hip-hop. Especially on the East Coast and West Coast—that’s when people started to take us seriously.
“I remember being in the back of Battery Studios when I first heard it. Common had been working on a handful of songs, and I hadn’t been to the studio in a few days so I had yet to hear them. He told me he was going to play me a song called ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ so I was like ‘Cool.’ So I’m in the studio listening to it, and at first I didn’t know he was talking about hip-hop—I thought he was talking about a girl.
“I’m thinking to myself ‘What girl could this be?’ Because we’d grown up together and I’d known all of his relationships and I’m like, ‘I don’t know who this girl is.’ It dawned on me [at the end] ‘Oh, he’s talking about hip-hop.’ I was just blown away with how he metaphorically wove the journey of hip-hop into a relationship.
“We picked it as a single because we felt like ‘Man, this song is going to grab everyone’s attention.’ We felt like this was the song we had to come out with at the time. It wasn’t like we thought it would give us the best chance at radio or anything like that. We just knew it was a song that would pull people’s heartstrings. One of those songs that would grab people emotionally more than anything. People just connected to it.”