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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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."