Where does ride or die come from?
According to the Ride or Die Project, a website dedicated to exploring the stories of women who have lived by the ride-or-die philosophy, the concept of ride or die originates in 1990s hip-hop as a modern, urban take on the legendary outlaw couple Bonnie and Clyde. The term ride or die appears in early 2000s rap music, notably a 2000 song, “Ryde or Die, Bitch” by the Lox. As Lox’s title suggests, ride or die originally referred specifically to a black woman, called a ride or die bitch or chick, who is willing to ride with, or support, a man living a criminal lifestyle no matter what, even if it means death.
In the 2010s, ride or ride expanded from its original “gangster” context. The Ride or Die Project, for instance, generally use the term to signify “undying loyalty for her partner,” especially with respect to the mass incarceration of black man in the US. While some black women have embraced ride or die as an empowering and positive construct, others have challenged it as a harmful stereotype and sexist model of black femininity.
Ride or die, as spread through the popularity of hip-hop music and culture, and has jumped into the mainstream lexicon as a expression for any friend, family member, or romantic partner, regardless of gender, who will always stick by your side—who will ride or die with you to the end.
Who uses ride or die?
Ride or die enjoys many uses in the informal mainstream lexical. You can be a ride-or-die friend, fan of a musical artist, or user of a brand or musical artist, as the modifier is sometimes hyphenated. You can be someone’s ride or die, e.g., “My sister is my ride or die.” You can even verbally ride or die, as one tweeter advised not to “ride or die with someone who doesn’t value you.” Ride or die has extended to loyalty to or between fictional characters, too. A reliable, quality product can also be described as ride or die. A common male counterpart to ride or die chick is ride or die dude.
“Honestly, I feel bad for you if your mom isn't your ride or die”
@Nicole_9413 Twitter (April 22, 2017)
“Bruce Wayne's Alfred is the most ride or die in the history of ride or die's... He kept his secret identity to himself and played his part”
@ellis_unchained Twitter (January 27, 2015)
“She was his ride or die side chick that play her position, yet Tyson chose to leave her behind and married his first love.”
Tammy Wright, Goin HAM. Halsey Street Do or Die 2: Seven Goes 2 Hell & Back (2014)