By Greg DeVries
Society has been looking to the less-than-talented Drake for words of wisdom lately. Drake’s song “The Motto” was released on Nov. 15. In it, Drake claims the phrase, “you only live once,” commonly abbreviated as “YOLO.”
This motto needs to go.
The fact that people only live once should not be justification for an action. The line has been interpreted as encouragement to enjoy life. If you truly live life by the motto “you only live once,” then you can justify anything.
Want to try some cocaine? Well, you only live once, so go for it.
On the other hand, you only live once, so you probably shouldn’t risk the damaging repercussions of cocaine. I believe we’re going in circles.
The motto isn’t even Drake’s to claim. “Man lebt nur einmal!” (translated “You Only Live Once!) was a waltz written in 1855 by Johann Strauss II. “You Only Live Once” then became a 1937 crime drama starring Sylvia Sidney and Henry Fonda.
After that, “You Only Live Once” was a song by The Strokes. Then it was a song by Unsolved Mysteries. Then it was a song by Suicide Silence released just a few months before Drake’s song came out.
What exactly is Drake’s reason to live by this motto? The lyrics don’t actually say why. He just goes on about how he is sitting on a figurative bench because he isn’t playing in a figurative game. Then he goes on to say that he cannot see people because his money is in the way. This may be some high-brow reference that I am not seeing, but I doubt it.
His verse doesn’t help either. He discusses his money, talks about the different cities that he visits and the girls that he fornicates with, but nothing about a time when he needed to overcome something by reminding himself to seize the moment.
I don’t know what is more pathetic: the current state of the rap industry or the fact that people look to lyrics like these for mottoes. Rap used to be a fun way of talking about the good ol’ times. Eventually, creative word play was introduced. This evolved into political or social content.
How did this thought-provoking material turn into mindless banter about money, cars, women and liquor?
A few years ago, I was hoping rap would make a recovery. I had hoped rap would return to the days of intelligent lyricism. Instead, society has continued on its path toward destruction.
Not only are we listening and purchasing music from rappers that spit meaningless verses, but we are also apparently living by these words.
In December of 2006, Nas, who began rapping in 1991, released an album titled “Hip Hop is Dead”. A little more than five years later, nothing has changed. If the genre was dead in 2006, then it is extra-dead in 2012.
Think about the music that you purchase and listen to before you decide to make it a motto to live by. If consumers demand better music, then artists will have to write better lyrics. I really worry that somewhere along the way, we forgot about Dre.
Greg DeVries is a sophomore journalism major from Houston and is a sports writer for the Lariat.