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Ride or Die

When Richard Dawkins, the well-known British biologist, coined the term ‘meme’ back in 1976, I don’t think he had animated GIFs of two Spidermans pointing at each other in mind. For Dawkins, memes were cultural ideas that directed the evolution of society in the same way that genes controlled biological evolution. It was a way for Dawkins to explain complex cultural creations like art, music, and religion.

Boy, have we come a long way since 1976!

Today, you’re far less likely to hear about memes in discussions about religion (unless the religion in question is Pastafarianism – memes seem to be their primary way of evangelizing). Instead, the internet has transformed the meme from a boring scientific concept you probably never would’ve heard about into the glorious cultural phenomenon it is today.

Perhaps the best thing about modern memes is their incredible diversity. You can find memes that touch on every idea imaginable (Yes, unfortunately, even that one). To show our appreciation for and commitment to meme-culture, we’re counting down the top 10 ride or die memes currently on the internet.

Why? Because memes are our ride or die. If they take our memes from us, life ain’t even worth living.

Ride or Die Meme #10

Dominic Toretto (a.k.a. Vin Diesel) is a legend. And if there’s one thing he’s known for, it’s his commitment to his crew. It doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle he has to borrow or steal – even a little girl’s hot pink bike – he’s not going to let Brian or Letty face danger alone. He’s a true ride or die friend. In other words, he’s the kind of guy we should all aspire to be. May this ride or die meme be a reminder of what real ride or die looks like.

Ride or Die Meme #9

Being ride or die is a big commitment, and it’s not just the whole ‘die’ part, either. This ride or die meme reminds us that being ride or die requires some forethought. The last thing anyone wants is a ride or die chick that says she’s all-in, only to ask for a stop at Arby’s before you even get on the highway.

Ride or Die Meme #8

Marriage requires commitment. In this couple’s case, that meant more than just a vow to “love, honor, and cherish.” It also meant a willingness to be committed to jail. The smile on both their faces seems to let us know that they have no regrets. Why? Because they’re true ride or die.

Ride or Die Meme #7

“Little Ice” knows what it means to be ride or die. If his gang decided that jumping off a bridge was the best way to accomplish its goals (this is a middle school gang we’re talking about after all), then “Little Ice” will be right behind him. Why? Cause he’s ride or die, bi-atch!

Ride or Die Meme #6

You hear a lot about ride or die chicks. As this ride or die meme proves, women aren’t the only ride or dies out there. Anyone can tell by the look on this proud papa’s face, he’s finally come to realize the real meaning of ‘ride’ or die. Now, he’s on a bus that he won’t be able to get off of for a solid 18 years.

Ride or Die Meme #5

Being in a relationship isn’t easy – especially when the girl’s into matching red turtlenecks, cats, and really awkward couples photographs, but what if she’s hot and has a great personality? Well, all we can say is, “Ride or die.” If you ain’t willing to fully commit… then don’t think for a second that you’ll get to play with her pussycat.

Ride or Die Meme #4

This ride or die meme reminds us of something important – that ride or die is a two-way street. You can’t expect your one-and-only to be ride or die if you don’t return the favor. Although remember, hiding bodies is still a felony.

Ride or Die Meme #3

It’s an age-old question that’s haunted generations of children… “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” If you’re okay being a come and go rather than a ride or die, then the answer’s plain: “No, I wouldn’t.” But for all the ride or die chicks and fellas, there’s only one possible answer. This kid sums it up perfectly.

Ride or Die Meme #2

We’ve had some fun with the ride or die memes so far. Before we get to our number one, let’s take a moment to step back and recognize that anyone can claim to be a ride or die bitch. You’ll never know if she really is one until you can take a photo like the one in this ride or die meme. 75 years old and still riding…

Ride or Die Meme #1

One of the most important things in life is to know where your true loyalties lie. When this guy’s woman refused to ride or die… he did what any self-respecting man would do. He walked out the door and found something else to ride. Something that wouldn’t quit until he’d come to his destination. That was the day he realized that his true ride or die was his bike.

So, who – or what – is your ride or die? Comment below.

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Bonnie and Clyde

The Bullet-Riddled Origins of Ride or Die’s and It’s Various Meanings

On May 23, 1934, in the backwoods of Northern Louisiana, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s string of robberies and murders came to an ¬explosive end. Six police officers ambushed them, shooting over 110 bullets into their stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe. When the dust had settled, Bonnie and Clyde had more holes in them than a couple blocks of swiss cheese. And the seed was planted for a phrase that wouldn’t fully blossom for over eighty years.

Bonnie and Clyde were ride or die.

The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde’s Ride or Die Philosophy

Neither Bonnie nor Clyde ever used the phrase ‘ride or die’ as far as we know, they definitely embodied by the philosophy.

Shortly before the shootout that would end their crime spree (and their lives), Bonnie wrote a poem called ‘The End of the Line.’ In it, she foretold what lay ahead…

“Some day they’ll go down together;
And they’ll bury them side by side,
To a few it’ll be grief –
To the law a relief –
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.”

Bonnie was committed to Clyde’s criminal way of life, and she knew that commitment meant that her fate was sealed: She had but one option “ride or die”. In the end, she and Clyde would ultimately do both.

From Bonnie & Clyde to Jay-Z: How Ride or Die’s Meaning Evolved

Over the seventy years following Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths, their legend grew… with a film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway… and a country music song by Merle Haggard… and an early 90s made-for-TV movie… and a 1993 rap song by Yo Yo and Ice Cube.

By the turn of the millennium, Bonnie and Clyde’s story had seeped into every cultural crevice imaginable. But Hip-Hop went a step further and made this doomed American love story its own.

In 1997, Baby Gangsta released a single called ‘Ride or Die’ that would introduce the now-famous phrase into the cultural lexicon. A year later, Jay-Z would amplify the phrase by covering ‘Ride or Die’ himself. And two years after that, The LOX would put out a duet with Eve called ‘Ryde or Die, B*itch.’

The seed that Bonnie and Clyde had planted with their ill-fated drive across Bienville Parish, Louisiana was beginning to sprout. What had started as one couple’s commitment to one another no matter the cost had become a cultural phenomenon.

As it did, people began to use the phrase ‘ride or die’ to refer to anyone they were utterly committed to. It was used to describe men and women who were faithful even when their faithfulness put them in danger – or worse.

Ride or Die’s and The Relationship with Bike Culture

Although the true origin of ride or die is steeped in folklore and mystery somewhere along the way, the phrase entered bike culture. Not because bikers have an affinity for Jay-Z or UGG boots but because the phrase ‘ride or die’ correctly expresses the affinity most motorcyclist have towards riding.

As ride or die burrowed its way into biker culture, it did so with a slightly different connotation than it had in its Hip-Hop origins. It no longer referred to a woman who was committed to standing by her man no matter what insane thing he did.

In bike circles, ride or die largely referred to a motorcyclist commitment to the love of riding. It was a statement declaring he had only two options in life: he could ride… or he could die, because giving up his bike would be like tearing out his heart. This phrase can be seen strewn across bikes, t-shirts and belt buckles. It has equally permeated through all facets of bike culture, no matter what you ride from crotch rockets to HOGs it has meant the same thing.

Among certain groups of bikers, the meaning of the phrase was slightly more focused. Ride or die didn’t just refer to a commitment to riding. It was about his dedication to the club of bikers he rode with. And in some of those clubs, quitting meant you were signing your death warrant (see 1%’ers to learn more).

The Last Word…

So where does ride or die sits today?

Within Hip-Hop culture, it still refers to a woman that won’t leave her man no matter what. Among basic white girls, it’s a true-blue BFF always down for latte and nails. Motorcyclist still use it to talk about their devotion for the love of riding (or the club you ride with).

Like all language, ride or die will likely continue to evolve and take on different meanings into the future.

Who knows what it may eventually mean among conservative evangelicals… or flamboyant drag-queens… or any of the dozens of other subcultures in modern American society?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, this phrase will always mean something special to those of us that have fallen in love with everything BRAAAP.

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