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"Ride-or-die chick", in the ghetto culture, is a woman willing to support her partner and his illicit lifestyle despite how this might endanger or harm her. Sometimes this is portrayed as a more passive "support and love regardless of their transgressions" role, but oftentimes it requires women to take an active role in these transgressions and manifests in a "willingness to help men in dangerous situations," and "a sense of shared risk."
The term refers to a woman who embraces the "Us Against the World" Bonnie and Clyde dynamic with her boyfriend/husband. In theory, she accepts a life being his "partner in crime," even if doing so results in her own death.
Classification as a stereotype
Historically, there have been four stereotypes of Black female sexuality, the Jezebel, mammy, matriarch, and welfare mother. Researchers Dionne P. Stephens and Layli D. Phillips reinterpreted these categories and claimed the modern day hip-hop equivalent of these gender-role scripts are the diva, gold digger, freak, dyke, gangster bitch, sister savior, earth mother, and baby mama. Of these stereotypes, the most similar to the ride-or-die chick is Philips's description of the gangster bitch. Like the gangster bitch, the ride-or-die chick comes from a violent, impoverished, crime-filled environment and is considered an important ally in surviving this environment because of her lack of fear, street smarts, and devotion. However, the two terms do have their differences. For example, according to Philips, the gangster bitch and her partner recognize they are in a short-term relationship whereas the ride-or-die chick and her partner are often portrayed as being in lifelong relationships.
Use in hip-hop music
The "ride or die chick" trope is invoked by both men and women in hip hop with men stating their desire or love of ride or die chicks and women identifying themselves as willing to ride or die. Many of these songs are duets between male and female artists and contain both of these perspectives within the same song.
The song to popularize the "Ride or Die" outlook on life was "Ride or Die" by Baby Gangta featuring Lil Wayne and Juvenile. The song, released in 1997, was on Baby Gangsta's third studio album, It's All on U, Vol. 2. It was produced by Mannie Fresh.
Jay-Z and the Ruff Ryders advanced the term into the mainstream, in 1998 and 1999, respectively, with the songs, "Ride or Die," on the Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life album and "Ryde or Die," on the Ryde or Die Vol. 1 album.
However, the first mainstream rap song to advance the notion of a woman being "down" to "ride or die" with the lifestyle, was "The Bonnie and Clyde Theme" by Yo Yo in a duet featuring Ice Cube, on her third studio album, You Better Ask Somebody, released in June 1993. The popularization of the term, "Ride or Die Chick" did not enter mainstream hip-hop until The Lox released a duet with Eve, "Ryde or Die, Bitch," on the 2000 album, "We Are the Streets." The song was produced by Timbaland.
Other examples of the term in hip-hop include:
- "'03 Bonnie and Clyde" by Jay-Z ft. Beyonce
- "Dog Match" by Eve ft. DMX
- "Down Ass Bitch" by Ja Rule ft. Charli Baltimore
- "You're All I Need" by Method Man ft. Mary J Blige
- "Boss Bitch" by Mac ft. Mia X
- "Ryda" by The Game ft. Dej Loaf
- "Bottom Bitch" by Rafael Casal
- "Rider" by Future (feat. Tasha Catour)
- "#HoodLove" by Jazmine Sullivan
- "R.O.D." G-Dragon (feat. Lydia Paek)
- "Him & I" by G-Eazy and Halsey
- "Rider Chick" by Lil Durk ft Dej Loaf 
- "Ride or Die" by Nova (feat.Nia Kay)
- "We Ride" by Gucci Mane (feat.Monica)
- "Ride or Die" by Fetty Wap (feat.Jhonni Blaze)
- I Do (Young Jeezy song) by Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z and André 3000
Use in hip hop discourse
Within celebrity culture
This term is sometimes used to describe the lives and decisions of women in the hip hop community. In their interview with Tashera Simmon's following the announcement she was divorcing DMX (rapper), Essence magazine referred to her as "having a reputation for being the ultimate ride or die chick," citing her support of DMX despite his jail time, drug use, and infidelity. Lil' Kim was also called a ride or die chick after she went to jail for perjury for lying to a jury about her manager regarding a shootout involving several rappers. While the term usually implies drama and danger, this is not always the case. For example, Gabrielle Union was described as a ride or die chick for her public and vehement defense of her husband Dwyane Wade after his talent was criticized by basketball player/analyst Charles Barkley. The term is even sometimes used a shorthand for any heterosexual commitment in the hip hop community, as was the case in the Philadelphia Tribune's statement that Beyonce and Jay-Z were ride and die after they renewed their wedding vows.
Outside of celebrity culture
The term is frequently used negatively outside of celebrity culture. Blogs targeting young Black members of the "hip hop generation" as their demographic, such as Hello Beautiful, Hall of the Black Dragon, and Urbanbellemag.com, have all published articles that advise women to be wary of attempting to be a ride or die chick at the expense of their own happiness and health. These articles argue women need specific boundaries in their romantic relationships and dismiss the idea of limitless loyalty as either unrealistic myth or facilitating abuse and disrespect. However, this negative perspective is not universal. The website singleblackmale.com, which claims to represent the "urban male perspective", tells women specific ways they can achieve ride or die status that vary from "being down for the cause" to "either watch sports...or get out and leave (your man) alone."
Defense of term
Black feminist scholar Treva Lindsey claims the ride or die chick is a challenge to a dominant narrative in hip hop that privileges homosocial male relationships and undermines heterosexual romantic bonds between men and women. Drawing on scholars Patricia Hill Collins and bell hooks she argues this love is not only personal, it is also an act of political rebellion because "In a culture that claims black women are unlovable and undesirable, and black men are violent and irredeemable, it is considered "rebellious" when black men and women love each other." Others have also argued that the "ride or die" narrative is a recognition of the disenfranchisement these couples face because of race and class and it is because of this systematic oppression that they feel it is them against the world. In this understanding by claiming to be a ride or die chick, a woman is not diminishing her own self-worth or inviting mistreatment, but symbolically invoking a politically-aware alliance. Her recognition that committing to this relationship will require her to ride or die is a statement about the difficulty her partner will likely face as a Black man living an illicit lifestyle.
Another favorable understanding of the trope argues its meaning is flexible and can positively evolve. For example, one definition of this term claimed "for a 30+ year old man, who has his ish together, a down ass chick is someone who is down for you in other ways...Both versions are loyal and have your back but... the 30+ DAC is not willing (nor required) to sacrifice herself or her goals for her man. They are building together."
Critique of term
Despite these positive readings and the fact that ride or die chicks are often the subject of male praise or female self-identification in hip hop, they have also been critiqued as a negative and damaging ideal imposed on Black women. Critics have argued that ride or die chicks are a heterosexual male fantasy that privileges male pleasure and ignores the costs women must pay to fulfill this fantasy. Hip hop feminist author Gwendolyn D. Pough claims the rising number of Black women in prison, currently the fastest-growing prison population, is evidence of the high cost ride or die chicks must pay.
The ride or die chick can also be understood as a hip hop reiteration of the Madonna–whore paradigm. In this understanding the ride or die chick is the Madonna and her opposite is the trick/hoe. Unlike the "Madonna", the ride or die chick is sexualized (casting doubt on this very comparison), but unlike the trick/ho, her sexuality is praised and valued. The ride or die chick is not seen as sexually deviant because her partner is the only man with access to her body. Like the Madonna/Whore, in this schema women's sexuality is only for male pleasure and is limited to fulfilling one of two restrictive opposing roles. Also like the Madonna/Whore, in this understanding the ride or die chick is a sexual script although, unlike Madonna/Whore it is specific to Black women. In an interview, hip hop activist Toni Blackman noted that it is not the sexuality of these scripts she is troubled by, but that "woman's choices are only limited to A, B and C. When a guy gets to choose between ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP." In this critique the problem with the ride or die chick is not its specific meaning but its place as one of several stereotypes, or scripts, that supposedly represent the entirety of Black female behavior.
- Julia Austin (7 Jul 2017). "What It Actually Means To Be His Ride-Or-Die Chick". MadameNoire. Moguldom Media Group.
- Philips, Layli (Summer 2005). "OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS WITHIN AN OPPOSITIONAL REALM: THE CASE OF FEMINISM AND WOMANISM IN RAP AND HIP HOP, 1976-2004". Journal of African American History. 90 (3): 253–277.
- Stephens, Dionne P.; Philips, Layli D. (Winter 2003). "Freaks, Gold Diggers, Divas, and Dykes: The Sociohistorical Development of Adolescent African American Women's Sexual Scripts". Sexuality & Culture. 7 (1): 3.
- Lil Durk (Ft. DeJ Loaf) – Rider Chick, retrieved 2018-03-07
- WinterTimeShawty (2017-06-02), Nova - Ride or Die (Feat. Nia Kay) | Lyrics, retrieved 2018-03-08
- OfficialGucciMane (2017-10-12), Gucci Mane - We Ride feat. Monica [Official Audio], retrieved 2018-03-08
- Hype Lyrics (2015-06-16), Fetty Wap - Ride Or Die Ft. Jhonni Blaze Onscreen, retrieved 2018-03-08
- Penn, Charll. "Tashera Simmons: Why I'm Really Divorcing DMX". Essence. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Preston, Julia. "Lil' Kim Gets One Year in Prison". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Morgan, Joan (November 9–15, 2005). "Lil' Kim" (45). Village Voice. The Village Voice.
- "Ride or Die Chick: Gabrielle Union CHECKS Charles Barkley". Theybf. Young, Black and Fabulous LLC. January 20, 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Jackson, Patty (October 24, 2014). "What's the 411". Philadelphia, PA. S10. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "5 Limits To Being a "Ride or Die Chick"". Hello Beautiful. Interactive One. August 3, 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Dragon, Greg (November 8, 2010). "A Ride-Or-Die Chick: The Myth That Is Every Mans Dream". Hall of the Black Dragon. hall of the Black Drago. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- "The Problem with the Ride or Die Chick". Urbanbellemag. September 7, 2010.
- "Signs That She's a Ride Or Die Chick". Single Black Male. SBM Media Group. August 29, 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Lindsey,, Treva B (Spring 2013). "If You Look in My Life: Love, Hip-Hop Soul, and Contemporary African American Womanhood". African American Review. 46 (1): 87–99.
- "The Evolution of a Down Ass Chick". Crunk Feminist Collective. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Phillips, Layli; Reddick-Morgan, Kerri; Stephens, Dionne Patricia (July 1, 2005). "Oppositional Consciousness within an Oppositional Realm: The Case of Feminism and Womanism in Rap and Hip Hop, 1976-2004". The Journal of African American History. 90 (3): 253–277. JSTOR 20064000.
- Pough, Gwendolyn D (Fall 2007). "What It Do, Shorty?: Women, Hip Hop, and a Feminist Agenda". Black Women, Gender, and Families. 1 (2): 78–99. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Jeffries, Michael P. (Fall 2009). "Can a Thug (get some) Love? Sex, Romance, and the Definition of a Hip Hop Thug". Women and Language. 32 (2): 35–41.
- Richardson, Elaine (2007). "It's On the Women: An Interview with Toni Blackman". In Pough, Gwendolyn D. Home Girls Make Some Noise (1st ed.). Parker Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 9781600430107.