YOLO and Youth: Using Your Capital


Ja'han Jones, Guest Columnist

The language of Hip-Hop is, perhaps, one of the most transcendent languages in human history. The language of Hip-Hop knows no geographic barriers; it knows no age barriers; it knows no ethnic barriers. Words spoken in Hip-Hop are words with universal meanings, and as such, they spread frantically throughout the world. In 2012, the gods of Hip-Hop linguistics cast down yet another gift. “YOLO”, having been introduced in Drake and Lil Wayne’s “The Motto”, became the slogan for youthfulness; it captioned our lives during moments in which we lived freely—carelessly—sometimes, even foolishly. “You Only Live Once” is more than a meme bandied about in the Hip-Hop world. At some level, it is a celebration of youth and the very qualities that comprise it. “YOLO” is an embodiment of the fallibility and the vibrancy of youth. As young people, you are expected to tinker with things, you are expected to fail many times over, you are expected to build, you are expected to learn, and you are expected to grow. YOLO, then—that ideology—is your capital to spend toward achieving these things.

Live, young ones. Live freely, not because you ought to, but because you must. The successes of tomorrow are dependent upon your failures of today. Your youth gives the world dimension; it acts as a counterbalance to all that is predictable—all that is traditional—all that is drab. Where there is reality, your youth offers healthy fantasy. You dream and you wish. You ponder and you explore. The world needs that, and the world needs your confidence. The world needs you, and you ought to find solace in knowing the future President, economist, high-ranking military official, esteemed professor, or national diplomat may be a man or woman who once played with MicroMachines or Bratz dolls, or watched Mary-Kate and Ashley videos on VHS, or was an avid reader of “Goosebumps” books. There is great value in your youth, and the world implores you to harness it.