By Maurice Bobb
Move over Jay Z, looks like director Jason Pollock has “decoded” Drake’s lyrics. The documentary auteur gave a commencement speech at Schenectady High School recently and managed to turn the OVO frontman’s hip-hop quotables like “YOLO,””Started From the Bottom” and “No New Friends” into memorable and motivational teaching moments and, thanks to the Internets and Complex, it was all captured on a must-watch video.
The Toronto MC’s “YOLO” acronym sparked countless jokes, memes and GIFs that will forever live in infamy in the annals of social media, but somehow, 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 and reduce the school’s dropout rate, found a way to use it as a positive message to the Schenectady graduates.
“You Only Live Once is about living every day to the fullest, because you only live once,” he said. “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.”
Twitter and Instagram has turned “No New Friends” into a hashtag for the ages, but Pollock flipped the mantra in his speech, urging the students to hang onto their true 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,” he said. “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,” he continued. “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.”
Rounding out his Drake-inspired speech, Pollock ventured to explain Nothing Was The Same’s “Started From the Bottom” with passion and gleeful aplomb.
“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,” he said. “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 redefine 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.”