A 'hood, also known as a ghetto, is a specific area where people sharing a similar ethnic or racial background live. The word "'hood" is essentially the slang alternative for neighborhood, although it has come to mean much more. For example, "'hood" now brings to mind a poverty-stricken area that is within the confines of an urban area. In contrast, poor neighborhoods in rural areas are often referred to as rural ghettos rather than 'hoods. Traditionally, the word 'hood referred to areas where the main population was African American. In areas where a lot of Hispanic immigrants have settled, the areas are often called barrios, the Spanish word for neighborhood.
"The 'hood" is a term often used by rappers to refer to their place of birth or to a place where they have lived a good part of their life. In rap songs, this place is often associated with poverty and crime, although that is not always the case in real life. People who grew up in the 'hood sometime dislike "outsiders" using the term to refer to the same neighborhood. Somehow, the word "'hood" conveys a sense of brotherhood reserved to those who actually experienced the place and the community. In some areas, the word "'hood" is politically incorrect term believed to have elitist or racial overtones.
If we are to believe songs, the 'hood is an area where "gangsta culture" is very much alive, and where organized crime, the drug trade, and corrupt police forces are customary. The 'hood is not a place where you want to be, but a place you can be proud of escaping from. Rappers often use the word 'hood as a way of bringing back memories of a difficult past that has long been overcome. Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 film that is often cited as an example of "culturally significant" art. The film explores the lives of several young men living in South Central Los Angeles, an area well-known for its high crime level. Some other places that are commonly referred to as "the 'hood" are Brooklyn and South Bronx, parts of Houston, and Philadelphia (Philly).