Tag Archives: hyphy

Ghost Riding The Whip

Video Examples:  http://vimeo.com/22972127

Drew told me that ghost riding the whip is when you blast hyphy music in your car (“whip” is slang for “car”), open up the doors and dance along the car, on the hood, or on top of the car while the vehicle rolls forward slowly in drive or neutral.  Drew described “Hyphy” music as mid-tempo hip hop with unusual slang and goofy lyrics commonly found in the Bay Area.    The type of music encourages its listeners to “go dumb” and have fun with themselves rather than having any serious political philosophy or emotional relevance.  Drew explained that the style was popularized by artists like Mac Dre, E-40 and Too $hort.  People often ghost ride the whip in areas like Oakland at events called “sideshows,” in which large groups of people get together, play loud music, and basically have huge parties in the middle of the street.

Drew learned how to ghost ride the whip from the juniors and seniors in his high school when he was a freshman or sophomore.  He said he and his friends performed the activity a few times throughout high school, usually late at night on abandoned streets.  He said that he also did it once in his high school parking lot.  He claimed that people mostly did it just because it was funny and because they had seen Bay Area rappers doing it in videos.

Drew said he thinks people ghost ride because the act is funny and a part of hyphy culture.  If you want to feel like a part of the hyphy movement, you’ll ghost ride the whip at some point in your life.  Also, it’s fun.

In the videos included at the beginning of the post, Drew and his friend Gordy (also from the Bay Area) demonstrate common dances associated with ghost riding the whip.  However, they told me that you can pretty much dance however you want.  The only rule is that the car has to be moving by itself and blasting hyphy music.

I agree with Drew’s analysis that people ghost ride the whip mostly because it’s fun and funny.  I also would ghost ride the whip with my friends a few times in high school, simply because we felt as if we were doing something funny that we had seen rappers from Oakland do in videos online.

Also, ghost riding has an element of danger attached to it, as there’s always the fear that your car might get out of control and crash.  This makes the practice especially exciting for kids who have just learned how to drive and are rebellious and willing to test their limits.  The fact that Drew did this in his high school parking lot demonstrates that the practice is associated with youthful rebelliousness.

Also, ghost riding and the other aspects of “hyphy” are largely linked to Oakland and the greater Bay Area.  Even though the action is performed by people throughout the country, it’s most commonly found in Oakland.  Thus, ghost riding gives people a sense of identity and community.  It also distinguishes the hip hop scene from other hip hop scenes found throughout the country.

This practice can be found in the film Ghostride The Whip: The Hyphy Movement, a documentary by Peter Sprier released in 2008.  The documentary depicts examples of members of Oakland’s hip hop scene participating in sideshows, ghost riding the whip and doing other tricks with cars.  It highlights the danger surrounding the practice, but also explains how hyphy is a movement that shapes Bay Area identity and youth culture.  Popular Bay Area rappers like Keek Da Sneek appear in the film and explain the ghost riding phenomenon.

The practice has also been written about in several news publications, such as this article in the Washington Post.


References to ghost riding the whip can also be found in songs such as “Ghost Ride It” by Mistah FAB, featured on the album Da Yellow Bus Rydah.