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In 2006, a rapper named E-40 released a song called "Tell Me When to Go," which included the first mainstream reference to a driving stunt called "ghost riding the whip." In hip-hop parlance, a car is also called a "whip," while "ghost riding" refers to a driverless car. This stunt involves putting a car in either neutral or drive and then dancing on the hood or around the vehicle as it slowly cruises down the street. Ideally, a driver will jump into the car before it becomes a hazard to others.
"Ghost riding the whip" actually began before the release of E-40's song. A subculture of hip-hop called hyphy, or hyphe, started in the San Francisco Bay area of California during the early 2000s, with rappers such as Mac Dre first suggesting the dangerous driving stunt in their lyrics. It became popular among fans who sought the greatest thrills in hyphy culture, namely a practice called "going dumb." Participants understand how risky the stunt can be, but the risk is also part of the thrill.
When the conditions are right, a driver will crank up the volume of his car's sound system to deafening levels and all the passengers exit the car quickly. The driver will then put the car in either neutral or drive and allow it to continue rolling down the street. The occupants begin to "ghost ride the whip" by dancing on the roof, hood, or area surrounding the car. Some participants will also videotape their experiences and upload the results to popular video-sharing websites. When either the music or the car comes to a sudden stop, the adventure is over.
Although the practice of "ghost riding the whip" is considered illegal in most cities, enforcement can be difficult. Participants are usually quite aware of their surroundings, so they tend to choose locations and times when local patrols are few and far between. The stunt is the modern equivalent of car surfing, a dangerous practice in which passengers stand on the roof of a moving car as if they were riding a wave. There is also an element of a old car stunt called a Chinese fire drill, in which passengers switch positions while the car is stopped at a traffic light. "Ghost riding the whip" is a much more dangerous practice, however, and should not be attempted under any circumstances.