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Who are the Flenorys? A guide to the Black Mafia Family, hip hop’s most notorious crime empire

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“1980-Something” in Southwest Detroit. While clutching full bags of Chinese takeaway food in each hand, Demetrius Flenory AKA “Big Meech” entered his family home. Smiling, he greeted his parents, but who only returned with stony eyes.

“Demetrius, we need to talk,” said his mother Lucille.

His father Charles, in an even sterner voice, asserted the message: “Boy, sit down.”

Demetrius’s smile vanished as he dropped to the seat, as his father lifted a copper ashtray concealing a small revolver. A brief fight broke out between the two as Demetrius agreed to leave the family home, but he never revealed that the gun actually belonged to his brother Terry, who was still in high school.

This scene is played out in the first season of BMF, a television drama series inspired by the true story of the family. The brothers were dealing drugs together – mostly small bags of cocaine – and eventually went on to run the Black Mafia Family, one of the largest drug empires in the USA, moving “hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Atlanta, Detroit, and other distribution hubs every month” according to the US Department of Justice. They operated from the mid-1980s all the way up until 2005, when the authorities eventually caught up with the pair and arrested them.

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By the early 2000s Demetrius had founded BMF Entertainment – a hip hop music titan that included a record label, promotion agency and magazine, which would be used to launder money from the drugs empire that the brothers had built. Booming as hip hop hit the mainstream of music, BMF Entertainment became key players in the industry, representing Bleu Da Vinci and associated themselves with artists including Diddy, T.I., and Jay-Z.

The second season of the show, created by Randy Huggins and executively produced by none other than Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is due to drop in next month (January 2023). With the first season following the brothers’ and their gang’s ascent to the top of the tree in the Motor City, the new season will follow how they took their business nationwide.

But on top of a story that’s about drugs, gangs and the music industry, right at the heart of BMF is a story about family – namely the Flenory family. But who are they? Let’s take a dive into the characters and the real life people who inspired them.

Played by his real-life son Demetrius Flenory, Jr., “Big Meech” was the main leader of Black Mafia Family, and founder of BMF Entertainment. A charismatic, deeply independent eldest son, in the television show Demetrius and his father had a troubled relationship, and he paid off the family’s mortgage without informing his family. At the height of Black Mafia Family they were operating in multiple states including Michigan, California, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for maintaining a criminal enterprise and money laundering.

Terry was Demetrius’s younger brother, and was also known as Southwest T. By the time the second season begins, Terry (played by Da’Vinchi) had pledged to quit the drug dealing game, cutting ties with his older brother and focusing on running a legitimate car-ride service with his father. It wouldn’t last though, as he found himself heading up the enterprise with his brother. Nowadays, Terry is a free man – after serving time for his involvement with the Black Mafia Family, Terry was granted compassionate release from prison in May 2020 due to his poor health.

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Born in 1948 in Cleveland, Ohio, Charles was the principled patriarch of the household. His marriage with his wife was endlessly turbulent due to the family’s financial issues, and in Season Two of the television show, where he is played by Russell Hornsby, Charles ends up having an affair with another woman. While his son ends up becoming a music mogul, the real-life Charles Flenory dipped his toes into the industry waters himself – he played guitar for Detroit group The House of God, Keith Dominion and wrote ‘Jump For Joy’, a 1997 Campbell Brothers song, as well as starting his own record label Gospel Sounds Record Corporation.

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In trying to help pay for the family’s bills, God-fearer and relentlessly hard worker Lucille Flenory (played by Michole Briana White) took a job at fast food chain Wendy’s. Knowing the strain it would cause on the family, she originally hid the financial difficulties from her husband and as the troubles began to escalate, their marriage hit the rocks. In 2005, when the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) eventually caught their children, Charles and Lucille were investigated, but it was deemed that they hadn’t been involved in Demetrius and Terry’s business at all. These days Lucille is active on Instagram with the handle @realbigmeechmom.

BMF Season Two is produced by Lionsgate+. The first episode premiered Jan 6 2023 on STARZ and can be streamed in the UK on the Lionsgate Plus app. Watch the trailer for Season 2 below.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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