Director Jason Pollock gave a Drake-inspired commencement speech to students of Schenectady High School recently, a speech that epitomizes the Toronto rapper's current ubiquity.
Pollock spoke to the students as the creator of Undroppable, a web series and upcoming documentary that has doubled as a social-media driven campaign to promote the importance of a high school education. Schenectady High School has partnered with Undroppable to reduce the school's dropout rate, which it has successfully done thus far (the school's dropout rate went down by 26% this year).
The bulk of Pollock's speech was framed around three of Drake's most popular phrases: YOLO ("You Only Live Once"), "No New Friends," and "Started From The Bottom." Pollock did more than just name drop these lines, however; he created his own interpretations for the phrases. In doing so, he made them truly motivational.
Pollock's explanation for "YOLO:"
"You Only Live Once is about living every day to the fullest, because you only live once. You Only Live Once is about making sure that every day we tell the people that we love that we love them; YOLO. YOLO is about doing as much as we can every day to try to help our community, because we only live once."
Pollock's explanation for "No New Friends:"
"No New Friends does not mean to sit in your basement and not talk to anybody because 'No New Friends.' No New Friends doesn't mean to block yourself off from the world. And No New Friends doesn't mean don't make new friends, because you obviously need to make new friends. And as you go to college, and you grow up, there are going to be a lot of different people that come in your life and come in and out of your life. Some of them are going to call you themselves your friend. Some of them you're going to think are your friends. Some of them aren't your friends. But to me No New Friends is so important because what No New Friends to me means is that there are a few people in your life who you grew up with and truly know you, and they are your real friends. And let's make sure that we value these real friends. A real friend is someone whom you can say a sentence to and they know ten thousand words behind that sentence. And there aren't that many people in our lives like that. And I'm thirty-one now, and the people that I grew up with in high school truly are my real friends still to this day, and I haven't let them go and I'm never going to let them go, and I highly suggest that all of you do the same."
Pollock's explanation for "Started From The Bottom:"
"It doesn't matter if you're rich or you're poor. Started From The Bottom is really for everybody, because we all started from the bottom. We all have to start from the bottom with emotional stuff. We have to start from the bottom with, you know, maybe being depressed. We have to start from the bottom with maturity, with understanding of the world. With morals, with ethics. And so each of you had to start from the bottom, and now you're here. And I honestly congratulate you for that, and I want you guys to remember that Started From The Bottom, and life in general, it's not about money and fame. You need to redfine what success is. And I think Drake is also trying to show us that the rappers and basketball players in our community aren't the only heroes. Started From The Bottom is for all of you too. You graduates are truly leaders of this community, and let's give them a round of applause.
Pollock not only delivers three masterful explanations for Drake's lines that are normally dropped in conversations and tweets without serious consideration, he delivers them with an excitement that is worth watching several times over. His arms wave up and down as he takes on Drake's vocal tone and even harmonizes the phrases in the cadence that was used in the actual song. The students can relate because Pollock demonstrates that he really is a fan of Drake when he acknowledges that "YOLO" is an older phrase. And more importantly, Pollock's passion for trying to encourage students to remain in school and achieve their fullest potential shines through in his words.
Listening to Pollock recite these lyrics, it is incredible to think that Drake has only been on most of our radars for less than five years now (So Far Gone, the mixtape that propelled him into the limelight, came out in February of 2009). In this short amount of time, he has created a legacy for himself that will likely stand the test of time. It goes beyond six top-ten singles, two platinum albums (presumably three when Nothing Was The Same comes out), and a Grammy Award though.
Drake is a mascot for soceity in the digital age of 2013. His lines are quoted in high school yearbooks, tweets, and Facebook statuses. He is inextricably linked to the online humor of memes and .gifs. The hooks to his songs enter our collective lexicon, to the point where even people who do not like his music are forced to use these phrases. Perhaps more than any other artist in the world right now, he has his hand on the pulse of how we function these days with social media and technology.
Whether you are a big Drake fan like Pollock, or you absolutely abhor everything he represents, you will likely be enthralled by the speech above. And this is yet another example of the power that hip-hop has in its essence.
RELATED: Attn: Tufts University, Here Are Some More Drake-Inspired Essay Prompts For Your Perusal
RELATED: The Thirstiest Comments on Drake's Instagram
RELATED: 25 People on Twitter Who Think Drake Is Better Than Jay Z and Kanye West