Ever since Drake brought “YOLO” into the lexicon in 2011 via his song “The Motto,” teens and adults alike have adopted the acronym — “You Only Live Once” — as an excuse to do dumb things with zero consequences. Director Jason Pollock, however, recently redefined — or, rather, clarified — its meaning during a Drake-themed high school graduation speech that pumped the kids up almost as much as Drizzy himself could.
Pollock, creator of a social media project calledUndroppable that seeks to curb high school dropout rates, went to Schenectady High School at the end of June to unleash his Drake-inspired wisdom. Pollock is currently compiling videos featuring kids from high schools around the country for inclusion in a documentary produced by Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun and “Anchorman 2″ writer/director Adam McKay.
The director put three “Drakeisms” — “YOLO,” “No New Friends” and “Started from the Bottom” — in terms applicable to the grads’ lives. No, Pollock wasn’t promoting rampant bad decision-making with an easy “YOLO” out — he was bringing out the wisdom in Drake’s words, he said.
Here are Pollock’s definitions of the Drakeisms:
“YOLO: “[It’s] about doing as much as we can every day to try to help our community because we only live once,” he said in the speech.
“No New Friends”: “[These are the] few people in your life who you grew up with and truly know you, and they are your real friends.”
“Started from the Bottom”: This served as the speech’s tear-jerking show-closer, hitting the closest to home and telling the assembled students that “each of you had to start from the bottom, and now you’re here.”
“When that song came out — that was just a huge day for me,” Pollock told MTV News about “Started from the Bottom.” “As someone who’s been working in schools with underprivileged kids who don’t get a lot of respect and are trying to make it and need a little bit of inspiration, that song became a rallying cry.”
So why did Pollock go with Drake over all other hip-hop and pop stars? Well, he was simply giving the people what they want.
“I always ask the kids what they’re listening to, what they love, who they like,” he said. “And every kid told me Drake. I knew about Drake, but I hadn’t really become obsessed with Drake. One hundred kids in a row tell you that Drake is their favorite rapper — a lot of bells went off.”
Soon, Pollock became Drake’s biggest fan, inspired by his students’ love for the rapper as well as his respect for Drizzy’s lyrics. “In the hip-hop game he’s actually saying really smart things,” Pollock said. “I always talk about being positive, but I think he’s talking about it in a very different, very engaging way— he’s saying the same kinds of things.”
Pollock thinks his knowledge of the rapper prevented the kids from reacting to his speech with what could easily have been a room-wide eyeroll. “A lot of why I think the speech is good is because I’ve listened to kids so much, so I was able to create something that they wanted to hear,” he said. “To be honest, I did not realize how well it was going to go over. They just went crazy.”
Drake has yet to respond to the speech, but Pollock hopes that the rapper will get involved in Undroppable. “It would be a dream come to true to get this on his radar,” he said. “’I am Undroppable’ is a great Drake phrase…. I think we’re going to start seeing it in rap songs. It can be part of the lexicon, like YOLO.”