Rap pioneers have almost always glorified notorious gangsters and drug lords throughout history. That’s no secret. But Mara Shalhoup, Editor-in-Chief at Creative Loafing, and author of BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family gives us another viewpoint in her debut novel. A conversation with her allowed us to see through her eyes, the inner workings of a multi-million dollar drug trafficking organization.
After 12 years working for daily newspapers, Hip-Hop journalism piqued Mara Shalhoup’s interest. After she learned of the ongoing investigations into Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and his brother Terry Flenory’s drug dealings, she began her own investigation digging up police reports. In 2005, over 150 people were indicted for drug crimes involving what had become known as the Black Mafia Family, and she had a lot more access to attorneys and court files which are public record.
One would think, exposing such criminals would be nerve wrecking for a writer, but Shalhoup contends instead that the people involved wanted their story told and when she first began publishing news articles about the “crime family,” she got a positive response. When I asked her what she thought about rappers glorifying drug dealers, she responded, “It’s interesting…Hip-Hop speaks to a reality. It’s a reality of the world that becomes an attractive possibility to people with no better options. It becomes problematic because young people oftentimes follow that.” What did she learn from this project? She learned that the drug industry is far more intricate and structured than the image the world portrays. When she interviewed Big Meech, she said it was “very much like sitting across from an entrepreneur except he was behind a plexiglass window.”
I asked her what she loves most about writing and to my surprise, she said she finds the act of writing tortuous, but loves the research. “I have to feel strongly about something to write it,” she continued. Considering the three years she spent researching and writing her book on the Black Mafia Family, I think we can conclude she had pretty strong feelings.
BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family can be found at Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.