KRS-One uses this line on his 1987 rap My Philosophy to explain why he does not eat meat. In full, he says:

And hear it first-hand from the intelligent brown man
A vegetarian, no goat or ham
or chicken or turkey or hamburger
'cause to me that's suicide, self-murder

It is possible that KRS is making a reference to the Smiths' 1985 record Meat is Murder, or at least to the phrase, which probably would have been common around the time.

However, the way that KRS chooses to change it around - from murder to suicide is a stroke of insight, and is perhaps a good way to explain some of KRS' personality traits that sometimes offend people.

I could be reading quite a bit into this that wasn't intended, but it seems that this rhyme cuts through a pair of related dictomies that are taken for granted in contemporary American society.

The first dichotomy it plays with is the dichotomy between black and white. I hesitate to use these terms, since race isn't the real notion under debate here. It is more about the socially constructed difference between real and unreal, between the streets and the suburbs. Although pop culture can accept a limited number of black people as intellectuals, they must prove themselves by being a little bugged out or mystical. On the whole, the social construction of blackness in America is one of realness. And part of being real is concern with yourself and your immediate environment. In fact, these concerns are so overriding that it is impossible to escape beyond them. The social construction of what is means to be white, however, is of unrealness. White people have no real obstuctions placed in their paths' , so they can make decisions about things that are not directly in front of them. And, as such, they can be idealistic. Being idealists and unreal, they can choose to ignore the forces pressing on them.

At this point, to explain the dichotomy between black and white in American society, I must explain the underlying philosophical dichotomy, that of flesh and spirit, or self and metaself. The essential meaning is that black people are viewed as being "flesh" and white people are viewed as being "spirit". And part of being "flesh" is that you are constrained by your circumstnaces. To exist as "spirit" is to exist as an abstraction (although, of course, that must mean Q-Tip is white).

Since white people are abstractions and don't have an immediate self to be concerned with(not like the 'ghetto', where bullets are flying all the time , they can make decisions to be altruistic, to be martyrs.

KRS-One, who had a lifestyle for a great deal of his life in which he was constantly defending his life against physical danger, doesn't attempt to try to act like such a goal isn't worthy. Instead of pretending to be unconcerned with the fate of his own self, he merely extends his self interest and protection outward. He applies the concept of selfishness to others. He denies the notion that to be "real" is to be unable to think altruisitically.

In other words, instead of retreating to a stance of "idealism" where he refuses to hurt others, in this case animals, he merely calls eating animals "suicide", and therefore his refusal to hurt them becomes a very natural attitude.

This also reflects on some questions as to why KRS-One can sometimes offend other people. He has made statements in the past along the lines of "I am God" and other statements that could be seen as a sign of anything from meglomania to schizophrenia. However, KRS' real meaning was "the 'I' is God". All he is saying that the part of us that thinks "I" (called the Atman in India) is divinity itself, not that his particular identity is God.

It is quite a bit to squeeze out of one lyric, I know.

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