Common Uses A J Dilla Beat To Show His Love For HER Is Strong As Ever (Video)
At the beginning of this month, Common was a surprise guest at the 12th-annual Roots Picnic in Philadelphia. Back in the late 1990s, the MC who was making Like Water For Chocolate at the same time his friends were making Things Fall Apart. The SoulQuarians worked on both albums, so as Common popped up to perform “Act Too (The Love Of My Life)” as part of a full performance of The Roots’ Grammy Award-winning album, he remained on stage to give fans a few more selections. Notably, the esteemed MC offered up some new music very relevant to a day with SoulQuarian vibes in the air. With the band behind him, he performed “HER Love.” Before doing so, Comm’ revealed that his longtime friend, collaborator, and onetime roommate J Dilla produced the track.
During the performance, which Ambrosia For Heads recorded from the crowd, Bilal joined the show to sing on parts. It became clear that this song follows a 25-year-old series dating back to 1994 Resurrection single, “I Used To Love H.E.R.” The songs continued, from “Act Too” into the 2000s, with Brown Sugar soundtrack Erykah Badu duet “Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip-Hop).” In less than a decade, Comm’s attitude had shifted from one of bitter disappointment to renewed love and loyalty. Now, less than two weeks later, all the world can see the music video and get the latest take on where Rashid stands with Hip-Hop in 2019.
Whereas Bilal sang in Philly, the studio version features Daniel Caesar on a beat credited to Dilla. Common, who had posthumous Jay Dee works on 2007’s Finding Forever, shouts out his man before the song kicks in. In the first verse, Common acknowledges that Hip-Hop is all grown up now, and he has learned to appreciate it more as time has gone by. He recognizes it is now global, and in a reference to a Black Album lyric by JAY-Z about Common, shows how his own approach to the culture has paid off. On his 2003 song “Moment Of Clarity,” Jay rapped “If skills sold / Truth be told / I’d probably be / Lyrically Talib Kweli / Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense / But I did 5 mill’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since.” Rather than a jab at Common, Jay’s words were a lamentation of the fact that complex rhyming simply was not economically viable, for most. In his new song, Common raps “So, really, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense / You the one who gave me that confidence / You the one that showed me ’bout consciousness / And said ‘see beyond my metropolis.’” Since JAY-Z’s song, Common has gone on to win multiple Grammy Awards, an Emmy and an Oscar, and even found mainstream success, ironically with the help of Jay’s protege, Kanye West, all while staying true to himself.
The second verse is delivered a capella in the video. Stuttering his delivery, Comm’ raps, “H-h-h-here we go / T-t-they say love makes you grow / You’ve been sen-sen-sen-sensational / Instrum-ment-ment-ment-al / In my life, you’ve been vocal / But at times I felt like I didn’t know you / Now I know, you had to grow too / And experience life so you could know you / We all change, for what it’s world / You’re an angel, but still down to earth.”
It’s in the third verse (with the beat back in), however, where Common shows his full maturation, appreciation, and acceptance of Hip-Hop’s evolution. He puts on a dazzling display of wordplay incorporating the names of some of today’s biggest stars, many of whom draw the ire of 90s Hip-Hop fans. Common raps, “You gave me a voice in the world / It’s been hard to choose another girl / They trip when you mumble; they trip when you sing / But, you gave us a chance to dream / In Young Thugs, you see a Future / You recognize Lil Boosie ain’t hear to shoot ya / At 21, you knew I was Savage / But you said ‘Common you will never be average.” He continues, “You rock two chains, keep your mind free / You see a Malcolm X in a YG / You told me I’m the man like Gucci / With a chance to rap and make movies / Gave mills to the meek to inherit the earth / Before me too, you said ‘Ladies First.’ / Things get rocky, you there ASAP / Rocky to Ferg, you there to swerve / I want you to get the love you deserve / We all made it on the mic with words.” Common goes on to salute several others, and ends the song with “I’m forever yours to the tick-tock / I’m still talking ’bout you, Hip-Hop.” It’s a grown man perspective on a culture that is all grown up.
The video includes vignettes of the Hip-Hop experience, in places like Common’s native Chicago. While a cast of actors is used, a silhouette features Common speaking directly to a female, which has always been his Hip-Hop metaphor.
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