The Motto – Unpacking the YOLO Phenomenon and Beyond


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Drake's The Motto at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Delving into the Mantra: The Birth of YOLO
  5. High Life and Hedonism: Symbolism in Success
  6. The Legacy of Mac Dre and the Bay Area Salute
  7. ‘Cause the Pimpin’ Ice Cold’: Dissecting the Verses
  8. Ephemeral Fame and the Hidden Paradox

Lyrics

I’m the fuckin’ man, y’all don’t get it, do you?
Type of money, everybody acting like they knew you
Go Uptown, New York City, bitch
Them Spanish girls love me like I’m Aventura
Tell Uncle Luke I’m out in Miami, too
Clubbing hard, fucking women, there ain’t much to do
Wrist bling, got a condo up in Biscayne
Still getting brain from a thang, ain’t shit changed
How you feel, how you feel, how you feel?
25, sitting on 25 mill, uh
I’m in the building and I’m feeling myself
Rest in peace, Mac Dre, I’ma do it for the Bay
Okay, getting paid, we’ll holler whenever that stop
My team good, we don’t really need a mascot
Tell Tune, “Light one, pass it like a relay”
YMCMB, you niggas more YMCA
Me, Franny, and Mally Mall at the crib-o
Shout goes out to Niko, J and Chubbs, shouts to Gibbo
We got Santa Margherita by the liter
She know even if I’m fucking with her, I don’t really need her
Aww, that’s how you feel, man? That’s really how you feel?
‘Cause the pimpin ice cold, all these bitches wanna chill
I mean maybe she won’t but then again maybe she will
I can almost guarantee she know the deal, real nigga, what’s up?

Now she want a photo, you already know, though
You only live once, that’s the motto, nigga, YOLO
And we ’bout it every day, every day, every day
Like we sittin on the bench, nigga, we don’t really play
Every day, every day, fuck what anybody say
Can’t see ’em ’cause the money in the way, real nigga, what’s up?

One, time? Fuck one time
I’m calling niggas out like the umpire
Seven, grams in the blunt
Almost drowned in her pussy so I swam to her butt
It’s Eastside, we in this bitch
Wish a nigga would, like a tree in this bitch
And if a leaf fall put some weed in that bitch
That’s my MO, add a B to that shit
I’m fucked up, tore down
I’m twisted, door knob
Talk stupid? Off with your head
Nigga, money talks, and Mr. Ed, yeah
I’m so Young Money
Got a drum on the gun, Energizer bunny
Funny how honey ain’t sweet like sugar
Ain’t shit sweet? Niggas on the street like hookers
I tongue kiss her other tongue
Skeet skeet skeet, water gun
Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt! Tunechi

Now she want a photo, you already know, though
You only live once, that’s the motto, nigga, YOLO
And we ’bout it every day, every day, every day
Like we sittin on the bench, nigga, we don’t really play
Every day, every day, fuck what anybody say
Can’t see ’em ’cause the money in the way, real nigga, what’s up?
Real nigga, what’s up?

Now she want a photo, you already know, though
You only live once, that’s the motto, nigga, YOLO
And we ’bout it every day, every day, every day
Like we sittin on the bench, nigga, we don’t really play
Every day, every day, fuck what anybody say
Can’t see ’em ’cause the money in the way, real nigga, what’s up?

Full Lyrics

In an era where cultural catchphrases are dime a dozen, very few manage to encapsulate an entire generation’s mantra. One such lyric – pumping through the speakers of nightclubs, buzzing from the headphones of youths, and reverberating in the zeitgeist of the 2010s – is Drake’s ‘The Motto’. But what does this track truly signify, and why has the acronym ‘YOLO’ become an anthem for both the carpe diem and the reckless?

Drake, a maestro of seamlessly blending poetic introspection with braggadocio, released ‘The Motto’ as part of his acclaimed album ‘Take Care’ in 2011. The track’s influence seeped well beyond the confines of hip-hop and pop culture. It became a philosophical statement, a whispered excuse in the moments of decision, and a shouted justification at the edge of hedonism. This article delves into the layers beneath the thumping bass and sharp snares to uncover the true message threaded within the bars of ‘The Motto’.

Delving into the Mantra: The Birth of YOLO

Drake didn’t just give the world a banger with ‘The Motto’; he gifted it a catchphrase that morphed into a modern-day proverb. ‘You only live once,’ affectionately abbreviated to YOLO, became the rallying cry for taking risks and embracing the unknown. On the surface, these four words advocate for seizing the day, yet they carry the weight of existential realization – one that emphasizes the finitude of life and the urgency to make every moment count.

This infectious hook is a testament to Drake’s knack for creating music that resonates on a universal level. The phrase ‘YOLO’ quickly transcended music, infiltrating social media, fashion, and even the way people approached life decisions. Its impact is profound, revealing the symbiotic relationship between culture and language, where one catchy line in a song can shift mindsets and behavior.

High Life and Hedonism: Symbolism in Success

Beneath the bravado of luxury and indulgence, ‘The Motto’ is draped in the symbolism of the high life as a metaphor for success. Drake’s lyrics illustrate his journey from obscurity to ubiquity – depicting a world where material trappings serve as the scorecard for achievement. The reference to ’25 sitting on 25 mil’ may present itself as a blatant boast of wealth, but it’s also a nod to the artist’s triumphant overcoming of obstacles on his way to the top.

‘The Motto’ encapsulates the transformative power of stardom and the inherent alienation it brings. The duality of fame is explored through the lines that shed light on the superficiality of relationships in the spotlight; ‘Type of money, everybody acting like they knew you.’ Drake’s exposition of the hedonistic lifestyle underscores the paradoxical loneliness masked by the excess that fame often entails.

The Legacy of Mac Dre and the Bay Area Salute

More than a personal manifesto, ‘The Motto’ serves as a tribute to the late Mac Dre, a pivotal figure in the Bay Area hip-hop scene. The line ‘Rest in peace, Mac Dre, I’ma do it for the Bay’ does more than pay homage; it captures the spirit of an influential artist whose untimely death left an indelible mark on the genre. With this acknowledgement, Drake taps into the legacy of regional rap and positions himself as a torchbearer for the next wave of artists.

The Bay Area’s unique sound and slanguage have greatly influenced the hip-hop world, and ‘The Motto’ is an acknowledgment of that cultural export. By tipping his hat to the local lingo and legacy of Mac Dre, Drake displays his genre literacy and connects his own narrative to a broader hip-hop history, reinforcing his persona as not just a rapper but a cultural curator.

‘Cause the Pimpin’ Ice Cold’: Dissecting the Verses

To gloss over the bravado in ‘The Motto’ is to miss the complexity within its candor. The persona Drake adopts swings between a brash conqueror of the rap game to a wistful observer of its pitfalls. Each verse is a character study set to rhythm; the line ‘Cause the pimpin’ ice cold, all these bitches wanna chill’ might roll off the tongue as a slick one-liner, but under scrutiny, it poses a jaded perspective on the dating game and relationship dynamics in the age of celebrity.

This reflection on romance and fame slinks through the song, providing a counterpoint to the headier celebration of life’s highs. Drake’s wordplay infuses the track with more than just the expected tropes of rap machismo. Instead, he provides a glimpse into the complexities of navigating a celebrity lifestyle that is often misunderstood or glamorized by the public at large.

Ephemeral Fame and the Hidden Paradox

‘The Motto’ isn’t just a celebration of youth and riches; it’s a meditation on the temporal nature of both. There’s an underlying sense of impermanence that lingers long after the music stops. The fleeting nature of fame and success is the silent partner to the lyrics about indulging in every pleasure, a reminder that the pinnacle can also be the most isolating and vulnerable of places.

The song’s recurring phrase ‘What’s up?’ challenges listeners to consider their own relationship with success and temporary pleasures. As the track fades out, we’re faced with the fact that YOLO isn’t just a call to live to the fullest but also a recognition of the evanescence of the triumphs we chase. With ‘The Motto,’ Drake crafts a layered narrative that dances between the lines of celebration and caution, which continues to resonate profoundly within and beyond the domain of music.

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