The 50 Greatest Chicago Rap Songs

1. Common "I Used to Love H.E.R." (1994)

Producer: No I.D.
Album: Resurrection
Label: Relativity


The undisputed greatest Chicago hip-hop record of all time. An honor even Kanye would have to agree with. The acronym for H.E.R. has been disputed over the years (is it "Hearing Every Rhyme" or "Hip-Hop in its Essence is Real"?), but one thing is for sure: Common wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade.

Unhappy with the direction hip-hop was headed in, Common used the song as an extended metaphor for the genre, represented by a woman he once loved but had grown tired of due to H.E.R. recent actions. Das EFX and Onyx were used as examples, and subgenres like gangsta rap and G-funk were called into question.

Rash was salty that the industry gatekeepers were "letting all these goofies do her" and that show business had taken control of the culture. The song ruffled feathers across the industry and led Common into a heated battle with one of the all-time greats, Ice Cube (see No. 20).

On the last line of the final verse, Common and producer No I.D. let listeners in on the identity of the lady in question. And who they were talking about, y'all, was hip-hop.

Over the years, the track has been remade countless times, with the overall concept being used and abused, but none have come close or had the same impact as the original. We still love H.E.R.—Andrew Barber

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