Hip-hop has always had the power to start trends and bring old ones back to life with a fresh perspective. The recent craze of saying “YOLO” is a prime example.
Last year, Degrassi actor turned rapper Drake, recorded a hit song titled “The Motto” for his sophomore album “Take Care.” The song features a verse from his mentor and boss Lil Wayne – a recipe for a hit song in radio hip-hop today. To top that, the video is fun. With an additional verse from label mate Tyga, the three artists use the four minutes to show us how cool they are. And it’s not a bad song/video.
On the hook Drake declares, “You only live once, that’s the motto, nigga: YOLO.” YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once,” and despite the fact that it immediately dismisses the possibility of reincarnation, it is funny and fun to say.
Before “The Motto,” when I thought of someone saying “you only live once” I imagined they were about to do something wild or dangerous like skydiving. But it can be used for less extreme situations like taking “one more” shot when you know you’re past your drinking limit. And that’s what Drake is going for here. And it works.
That said, its catchiness has gotten out of hand.
When you are minding your business and working part-time at a certain retail store in downtown Savannah and a small group of middle-aged women are talking about partying later that night because “YOLO,” you laugh to yourself.
But you also cringe a little.
Has it really spread so far that older folks are overhearing their teens say it with their friends, asking them what it means, finding out what it means then using it with their friends out in public?
Social networking sites are no exception to this epidemic. On my Facebook news feed while I was writing this piece, as though a sign from the gods, an unnamed friend posted the status: “YOLO? you only live once.. except if your Jesus!!! he lived twice.”
Maybe Christ was trying to tell me something.
It happens on Tumblr too.
There’s a very effective meme in which the top portion of the image shows a girl in a club/party setting with the caption: At first I was like #YOLO. Then on the bottom shows a girl sitting on a toilet looking traumatized at what she is staring at, which is a pregnancy test and the caption reads: Then I was like…
You get the idea. Girl parties too hard, sleeps with some dude she met drunk and winds up pregnant.
And don’t get me started on Twitter. Do a #YOLO search on Twitter or in Google and see all the ridiculousness for yourself.
If you didn’t know what YOLO meant until reading this article then you’ve probably heard the phrase at some point and dismissed it as gibberish or jive. And maybe it is, but it’s more than that. It’s a motto to live by thanks to Drake, even if it is annoying. But, hey, you only live once.Contact Adeshola Adigun.