Behind the beat, I took my first shot of Henny
It hit me in the chest like when them marks shot Benji
Probably the most subtle and moving line in the entire song — Com combines a fairly mundane memory (his first time drinking liquor) with the violent death of a promising Chicago teenager, connecting them via the simile “hit in the chest.” This mingling of prosaic and profound speaks to the endemic violence in the world in which Common grew up, where losing a friend to violence and drinking liquor are similar rites of passage through childhood.
Benji refers to Ben Wilson — the #1 high school basketball prospect in the country, shot to death outside of his school (Simeon HS) in Nov. 1984. Common is featured in an ESPN documentary about the shooting.
Note that the song begins with Common drinking Hennessy, as he drifts into his memories of the summer of 1989.
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