It’s been two years since Big K.R.I.T. released his widely-praised sophomore album Cadillactica, and K.R.I.T. has stayed busy creating more music since (including the prophetic gem “Forbidden Knowledge” with Atlantan prodigy Raury). But one of the early singles from Cadillactica, the Raphael Saadiq assisted “Soul Food,” left us with a lot to digest over the last two years, and its message may be needed now more than ever. “Soul Food” is a painfully beautiful song about the power of culture and family, and the ways it has been decimated by our modern lifestyle.
While the song uses soul food as a metaphor for lost traditions and connections, the interlude at the beginning of the track on K.R.I.T.’s album draws a more direct line to the actual changes in food culture that have had a huge negative impact on the health and well-being of Black Americans:
Fast food employee: …welcome to “More Grease than Beef”
KRIT: I want a #1 my nigga, but uh… I don’t see what it is on the menu, man run that shit down for a playa real quick.
Fast food employee: Oh you want the #1? Shit bruh, the #1 come with two sides, shit you can get some poverty or some famine. And bruh if you don’t want that famine you can always get some low self-esteem! Or a biscuit.
KRIT: Nah, I’m good on that.
In the last 50 years, the food culture of America has changed dramatically, and like so much else in this country, has harmed African Americans disproportionately. American fast food has been linked to obscenely high rates of heart disease and diabetes, both of which reduce life expectancy for Black folks at double the rate of their white counterparts. Because African Americans represent a significant market for food spending (putting over $65 billion a year into the food industry) they are directly targeted by the fast food giants who look for any way to maximize profits. In fact, a study revealed that fast food companies even specifically target Black children in their advertising, even though these children are known to be some of the most vulnerable to diet-related disease.
But don’t let short-sighted nutrition advice fool you…K.R.I.T. got it right when he asked us where the soul food went. Despite decades of our government promoting a low-fat diet as the solution to ills like chronic heart disease and diabetes, the most accurate science on the subject has proven that home cooking is a more powerful key to health than just reducing fat, and that good eating habits which reflect heritage and culture have a bigger positive impact. Big K.R.I.T. may or may not have brushed up on nutrition research before crafting his song, but the wisdom of soul food surpasses any mainstream prescription to “eat better.” True health is about our whole being, and feeding every part of it, body, mind and soul. Breaking bread with family instead of hitting the drive-thru can heal many diseases of the heart. Let’s keep that soul food on our minds.