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Black Mafia Family

Creative Loafing’s first hand look at the Black Mafia Family. Our collection of stories, Big Meech and the BMF. 

Big Meech
Photo credit: Photo credit: David Stuart
THE BOSS: Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory made himself a legend.

Damn. I didn’t know that.

I didn’t know that either.

You’re kidding!

This is just t-o-o-o fucked up!

That’s how my half of conversations with Senior Writer Mara Shalhoup must have sounded over the last couple of weeks, when Shalhoup was on the homestretch of her investigative project on the Black Mafia Family.

Part I of her three-part series is this week’s cover story, with parts II and III running over the next two weeks. I bet it’s the longest story in Creative Loafing’s history. 

I was continually surprised by what Mara was digging up. Maybe “astounded” is a better word. BMF’s tale, and the related stories of feuds between hip-hop artists, cocaine-trafficking charges, parties drenched in excess and at least six killings, seemed to deal with so many extraordinary events and so many familiar people – from pop star Bobby Brown to Mayor Shirley Franklin – that the leads and anecdotes prompted enough double-takes to get a sore neck.

Needless to say, a project like this ain’t easy. Building trusting relationships with sources. Patiently going over relevant documents. Seeing patterns and finding connections. Backing up each part of the complicated story with careful fact checking. Organizing all those facts. Finding the right voice and pace from which to tell the story. It takes all those qualities, along with a crazed compulsion to check every word – a perfectionism that can drive one’s self (and, ahem, those around you) crazy – to write this kind of story. You’ll be able to tell from the results that very few journalists put together all these qualities as completely as does Mara Shalhoup.

And we as a community are richer for it. “Hip-hop’s shadowy empire” is a great yarn. But it isn’t just a great yarn. It tells me something about the “legitimate” world of the entertainment business and celebrity culture, the “illegitimate” world of crime, and the gray area where the two clash.

But, hey, I don’t want to give too much away here. I want you to read the story. 

- Ken Edelstein, Editor

CL published the first of the three part series on the Black Mafia Family on December 6, 2006 as the cover story. Mara Shaloup, CL’s Senior Writer at the time, broke one of Atlanta’s all time great crime stories of all time. The story has been written in several books, a documentary and currently, a television series. The three part series are here:

Big Meech” Flenory and the Black Mafia Family were hip-hop royalty. But investigators say they had a darker side. Part 1 of 3
BMF - Hip-hop’s shadowy empire - (part 1)

Loyalty within the Black Mafia Family made the alleged drug enterprise nearly impenetrable. But one high-placed member would break BMF’s code of silence. Part 2 of 3
BMF - Hip-hop’s shadowy empire (part 2)

In the summer of 2005, the party would get out of hand for Demetrius Big Meech” Flenory and the Black Mafia Family. And the feds would be ready to make their move. Part 3 of 3
BMF - Hip-hop’s shadowy empire - (part 3)