Jesus Really is a Biscuit: Unpacking the “Drag Race” Spiritual

 by: Derrick Clifton 


Jesus is a biscuit/let him sop you up!

RuPaul’s Drag Race isn’t exactly known as a show that’ll take you to church. But in a matter of weeks, one of the queens has managed to whip up an unlikely revival in the workroom.

That queen would be Latrice Royale.

Even casual references of RPDR among friends invites regurgitating RuPaul’s cheeky ‘ladyboy’ puns, shade throwing between queens, and the theatrics when queens “lip sync for your life” to avoid elimination. But something feels different this time, compared to seasons past: in some moments, I feel like I’m going to church.

A top four contender in the race to become “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” Latrice Royale has morphed into a motherly figure, moderating (or sitting back and sipping her tea) the insane cattiness between most of the queens.

In a few of her many golden moments, she recites or belts out her trademark spiritual so the queens can laugh, sing along and even have some good ‘ole church.

“Jesus is a biscuit. Let him sop you up!”

Hearing it takes me back to childhood moments singing and listening to sermons in my family’s Baptist church. When someone felt so inspired by the service or if “the spirit moved them,” they were encouraged to express it rather than repress it. A deacon praying may say, “Let the church say Amen” and the church says Amen. Or the pastor’s message hit the spot and someone sprung from their seat, raised their hand to God and shouted, “You better say it, now!”

That experience isn’t unique to me – it’s an experience every Sunday morning in black churches all across America. And it’s rooted in a tradition termed “call and response.”

It’s present in various musical and religious traditions, but especially salient in black churches. Call and response encourages congregational singing, active listening and participation from those not leading a song or chant. You can even hear “call and response” in many Negro spirituals including “Wade in the Water.” In the song, the leader might sing “Wade in the water/wade in the water children/wade in the water,” and others reply, “God’s gonna trouble the water.”

Latrice Royale’s little hymn is rooted in that very tradition. When she calls out “Jesus is a biscuit,” the other queens respond “let him sop you up!”

You see, biscuits are a baked good and even better when homemade. And with music, like baking, there’s a bit of a formula. But when whipping up some soul food, whether it be collard greens and cornbread or a soul-stirring song or inspirational statement, the cooks are known to improvise from the heart.

In that sense, “Jesus is a Biscuit” is one feast of a song. But its meaning might confuse folks unable to connect the dots between biscuits and Jesus.

Biscuits can be eaten plain, but most of us just don’t do that. We gotta have something with it – whether it’s blackberry Smucker’s, country molasses, gravy, margarine or even some bacon and eggs, the list goes on. It’s a simple little pastry, but it has a big job as a vessel to absorb and hold whatever you give it.

Apply that to Latrice’s song for a bit.

Consider that Christian faith invites followers to allow Jesus and his ministry to transform and take over their lives. It’s a belief that lessons on love, empathy, generosity and interdependence can absorb people and increase their wholeness.

So that would make Jesus the ‘biscuit.’ And what’s the ingredient he’s sopping up? According to the song, that would be you. But regardless of anyone’s faith tradition, that same expression can be applied as a lesson for life.

Religious faith acts as a source of higher inspiration for many, allowing belief in something greater to shape them, encourage them and fulfill them. Faith is also something very personal. But faith isn’t something intrinsically Christian, Muslim or any other world religion.

Faith can manifest into our work, our relationships, our goals and dreams and even ourselves – it’s all about allowing hope and belief to propel our evolution as individuals. If you’re passionate about your career, you have faith that you’ll perform well. If you’re passionate about relationships, you have faith that they will grow as you continue investing the time. If you’re passionate about goals and dreams, you have faith that they’ll come to fruition even when it’s hard. And if you’re passionate about individual growth, you continue having faith in yourself.

Food is a nourishing thing and so is faith of any kind. So why not take the time to nourish yourself?

At it’s core, that’s what Latrice Royale’s song is all about.

Jesus really is a biscuit, and I let him sop me up. Writing is a biscuit and I let it sop me up.  Whatever you believe in – whether it be a  higher power or that one thing you’re passionate about doing – allow it to absorb you. Make it your biscuit and let it sop you up.

Derrick Clifton is a columnist and opinion editor for The Daily Northwestern, the award winning student-run daily publication for Northwestern University and the City of Evanston, Ill. Clifton is also editor and publisher of DailyDerrick.com, a blog highlighting opinions and compilations on pop culture critiques and social justice, and an opinion contributor for NextGen Journal. Clifton is a senior in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. He enjoys inserting curt humor and sass in columns when appropriate and considers Beyonce his second religion after Jesus. Follow him on Twitter @DerrickClifton or email him: derrick@dailyderrick.com.

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8 responses to “Jesus Really is a Biscuit: Unpacking the “Drag Race” Spiritual

  1. Pingback: Jesus Really is a Biscuit: Unpacking the RuPaul’s Drag Race Spiritual | Daily Derrick·

  2. great article! Growing up in a not-really-all-that-religious home, I never quite understood religion that well. I think I’m starting to get it now. Thank God for Latrice! She’s a true queen.

  3. Latrice is a true queen indeed, Annie. I’ve loved her mama-like presence on the show this season, especially when the other queens are clawing at one another (i.e. Phi Phi vs. everybody else). I found it funny that my friends loved “Jesus is a Biscuit” but didn’t really understood what it meant, even if they were religious — and it was more so the connection with the whole ‘biscuit’ and ‘sopping something up’ part that had them perplexed for a bit. Thanks for reading!

    - Derrick Clifton
    Editor, DailyDerrick.com

  4. That was an interesting analysis. I’m not sure though — Is “Jesus is a Biscuit” something Latrice just says, or is it indeed a song? I always thought it was meant in a semi-camp way. At any rate, it’s catchy and I like your interpretation. I was SO sure the final four week would see Phi Phi dropped. But as wonderful as Latrice was, her just standing to deliver her lip sync (which is very well done and entertaining) is what I think did her in — not enough performance or movement. I wonder if the producers watch the tapes of workroom drama and goings on before making their choices for eliminations. Surely they do. If that were true, I surely think Phi Phi would have been sent home. Now I’m scared she might win. Jesus Is a Biscuit, indeed.

  5. Love this, Derrick! Beautiful example of how gospel music –even improvised– can hit a straight lick (make a salient point) with a crooked stick (in its own quirky, imperfect form). One of my favorite gospel songs in this vein is the O’Neil Twins’ “Jesus Dropped the Charges.” Good stuff.

  6. This is a brilliant article. It’s rich with plenty of theological thought. I’m a weekly church goer and this is better than any sermon I’ve heard lately.

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