1. Common “I Used To Love H.E.R.” (1994)
Without this record, the rest of this list might not exist. Well, save for anything post 1994. In music, it’s said that you don’t know you’ve created a classic while you’re making it – it takes years to rightfully garner the “classic” title. Well, with 20 years passed, this song more than deserves that distinction. It’s quite possibly the most important song in the history of Chicago hip-hop, and arguably the best concept rap record of all time.
From the lyrics to the production, everything was pure perfection on “I Used To Love H.E.R.” The soulful sound celebrated here would go on to inspire the work of other Chicago greats such as Kanye West, and blaze the trail for long and fruitful careers for both Common and No ID. This track is the catalyst for that. And 20 years later, we still love H.E.R.