ghetto fabulous

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Alternative forms[edit]


ghetto +‎ fabulous. In sense 2 perhaps influenced and popularized by rapper Mystikal's 1998 hip-hop song and album "Ghetto Fabulous".


ghetto fabulous (comparative more ghetto fabulous, superlative most ghetto fabulous)

  1. (rare, African American Vernacular slang) Authentic, keeping it real.[1]
  2. (slang) Wealthy, but of ghetto roots and ethic.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The term ghetto fabulous is used with a wide range of connotations, as the ghetto ethic may be associated with authenticity, with machismo, with lack of class, with a combination of these, or with other traits. (See the "Quotations" section below for some example's of the term's use.) As a result, the term is perhaps best avoided in contexts where the perceived connotation might not be the one intended.


  • a1999, Tammy B., quoted in Stuart Ewen, All Consuming Images: the politics of style in contemporary culture, Basic Books (1999), ISBN 0465001017, page xxvii,
    I was accepted by these diverse groups through my adolescent years for being Tammy B——, the epitome of ghetto fabulous. . . .
  • 2000, Camika C. Spencer, When All Hell Breaks Loose, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312267932, page 69,
    She actually gets most of the ghetto-fabulous clientele, who are either the mistresses of Dallas’s wealthy men or the girlfriends of drug dealers and major hustlers.
  • 2001, Dionne Bennett and Matthew Jordan Smith, Sepia Dreams: A Celebration of Black Achievement Through Words and Images, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312278179, page xiii,
    We are rarely born with silver spoons in our mouths, and, despite what some ghetto-fabulous hip-hop videos would have us believe, African-Americans know that even the most successful among us never go from projects to penthouse in the time it takes to sign a contract and cut a record.
  • 2001, Paula L. Woods, Stormy Weather: A Charlotte Justice Novel, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0393020215, pages 120–121,
    At first glance, he would seem perfect for the high-end catalogs my mother studies like the Bible—with that expensive Swiss watch on his wrist, his beautifully knotted silk tie, and a sparkler on his left ring finger some underpaid South African probably sweated blood to excavate. ¶ But it was all wasted, because once he opened his mouth, you might as well have hung a marquee over his head announcing “Ghetto Fabulous,” because that was exactly how the media man of the moment sounded. ¶ “Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, Kamau, my man!” He laughed heartily, flashing a set of cheaply capped, frighteningly white teeth. “Let the ladies through!”
  • 2001, Glenda Howard, Cita’s World, Kensington Books, ISBN 1583142789, page 36,
    Yours truly, the ghetto-fabulous goddess of music videos, […] was wearing a gorgeous green Gucci dress and some slamming Manolo Blahnik shoes and looked damn good.
  • 2001, Julius A. Young, Jr., A World Through Black Eyes, Xlibris Corporation, ISBN 1401028969, pages 89–90,
    Going from welfare / To Bel-Air / The dream to live ghetto fabulous / To have hundreds under my mattress
  • 2002, Sirena J. Riley, "The Black Beauty Myth", in Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman (eds.), Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, Seal Press, ISBN 1580050670, page 366,
    Being ghetto-fabulous is all about going from rags to riches. It includes having the money, house(s), car(s), clothes, and throngs of high-maintenance women at your disposal. […] ¶ Overweight women of color aren’t included in these videos because they aren’t seen as ghetto-fabulous, just ghetto.
  • 2002, J. Randy Taraborrelli, Madonna: An Intimate Biography, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0743228804, page 329,
    Just as she plugged into the electronic scene for the music, for the video Madonna would shamelessly imitate the notion of “Ghetto Fabulous”—an over-the-top look popularized by East Coast rap and urban music stars like Sean “Puffy” Combs, […]
  • 2002, Mark Anthony Neal, Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-soul Aesthetic, Routledge, ISBN 0415926572, pages 175–176,
    I spent my high school years deflecting charges that I was an “oreo” and a “wannabe”—fitting charges, I guess, against someone who had eschewed the more ghetto-fabulous styles of Adidas hard shells, colored Lee jeans, Le Tigre knit shirts (that ghetto fabulous stand-in for Izod Lacoste), and, of course, the requisite Kangol headgear. I favored Sperry Topsiders, patched and faded jeans, and pink crewneck sweaters. ¶ […] I was haunted by the concern of whether I would continue to be perceived as authentically “black” to my crew of boyhood friends. I was faced with the quandary that many black young people face when their identities are torn between the need to “keep it real” and the desire to be themselves.
  • 2007 September 30, Orlando Patterson, “Jena, O. J. and the Jailing of Black America”, in The New York Times, 30 September 2007, op-ed,
    The circumstances that far too many African-Americans face — the lack of paternal support and discipline; […]; the ghetto-fabulous culture of the streets; […] — all interact perversely with the prison system […]


  1. ^ "Ghetto fabulous" in Geneva Smitherman, Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner, Houghton Mifflin Books (2000), ISBN 0395969190, page 145: "Describes a person or thing that is authentic, the height of something, according to the authentic, natural, ‘keepin-it-real’ standards of Blackness that are believed to exist in ghetto communities. Also ghetto fab."