I’m gonna let y’all in on a little secret: Aside from watching my Denver Broncos embarrass themselves every week on national television, I don’t watch anywhere near as much TV as y’all think I do. In fact, let me get some confessions out the way, since—to quote one Usher Terry Raymond IV—if I’m gonna tell it, then I’m gonna tell it all:
- I’m guilty of three counts of having never watched a single episode of Abbott Elementary.
- I may or may not be a fugitive of the law because I’m liiiiiiiike two and a half seasons behind on Atlanta.
- I have no godly idea who Franklin Saint is, which in some countries—like Wakanda—is apparently punishable by death.
And in keeping that same energy—and at the risk of provoking the social media wrath of 50 Cent—I’ve also never watched a single series from the Power Cinematic Universe. And for those wondering about the equally popular Starz drama BMF? Yeah. I haven’t gotten around to that either.
That being said, it’s nearly impossible to be a hip-hop head of a certain age and not have vivid memories of Jeezy shouting out BMF, spotting Southwest T and his Black Mafia Family constituents scattered throughout rap mags, or hearing Rick Ross vacillate between whether he wanted to be Big Meech, a Wingstop franchisee, or Larry Hoover. So with my curiosity already piqued, and with the fine folks at Starz being kind enough to offer me a sneak peek at their upcoming docuseries, The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast, does it provide the perfect introduction to their network’s own eponymously named series? Especially for those of us who are already late as hell to the party?
Why, yes. Yes, it does.
Over the course of eight half-hour episodes, Blowing Money Fast delivers a comprehensive (and riveting) account of the rise and fall of the infamous Black Mafia Family, as told by the associates, celebrities, and former members who either witnessed or participated in their ascent from lowly Detroit hustlers to notorious drug kingpins. Most notably, the docuseries does a masterful job of deconstructing exactly how BMF’s co-founders, brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, were able to extend their own unwavering loyalty to each other into a $270 million dollar operation that spanned multiple major cities and became firmly entrenched in hip-hop’s folklore. They actually lived the life that your favorite rapper’s favorite rappers lie about, and now we’re finally treated to an in-depth exploration of what that perilous life entailed.
In watching Blowing Money Fast, one of the things that stood out the most to me is that while street life is often criticized for glorifying violence, BMF didn’t utilize bloodshed or brutality to assume power. Instead, they relied on Big Meech and Southwest T’s vision to essentially sell the concept of family as a commodity. This philosophy broadened over decades, culminating in lucrative relationships with the biggest crime bosses throughout the country and cultivating what would eventually become one of the largest cocaine empires in the history of ever.
“You go get a job, it takes two weeks to get your first check,” Big Meech explains in the doc, courtesy of a phone call from prison. “We ain’t have two weeks, you know what I’m saying? We needed it ASAP.”
It’s also fascinating to learn about the Flenorys’ humble beginnings and their true motivations for getting into the drug game: With their family torn apart by divorce in the aftermath of the Detroit uprising of 1967, they realized that if they didn’t hustle up some quick cash, that their family would be out on the street. This led to them crossing paths with their eventual mentor, Ederick “E.D.” Boyd, who put them up on game and inducted them into the 50 Boyz, where they’d learn the tricks of the trade while slanging $50 rocks. From there, Big Meech’s flair and natural aptitude for “pharmaceutical sales” propelled him into becoming a millionaire by the age of 17, while associating with infamous figures like White Boy Rick and running afoul of one extremely dangerous Layton “The Beast” Simon—a.k.a. the real-life inspiration behind Lamar Silas of BMF fame.
In closing, The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast serves double duty as both a captivating glimpse behind the curtain of one of the most notorious criminal enterprises in American history, as well as the perfect entry point for those of us who want to sit with the cool kids at the BMF table, but missed the first season of the show entirely.
That being said, I guess I have some binging to do this weekend.
The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast premieres Sunday on Oct. 23 on Starz.