The Connection Between BMF And Hip Hop Explained

Created by hip hop star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, the Starz series "BMF" tells the story of the Black Mafia Family, often shortened to "BMF." Formed in the 1980s in Detroit by two brothers, Demetrius "Lil Meech" and Terry "Southwest T" Flenory, the BMF was among the most powerful organized crime families in the U.S by the year 2000. Paralleling the rise of the BMF was the so-called "golden age" of hip-hop music, during which time Jackson himself, a gangsta rapper, had hits (per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

As Jackson's show illustrates, the BMF had an interest in hip-hop music as well. Around the year 2000, the same time that the operation adopted the moniker Black Mafia Family, the two brothers also founded Black Mafia Family (BMF) Entertainment. The enterprise was a money-laundering front for the BMF but also an attempt by the Flenory brothers to go above board with their business and to find a legitimate source of income, as The Detroit News reports. From launching the careers of some of the era's biggest stars to what finally brought them down, here's the story of BMF Entertainment and its connection to the music industry.

The BMF crime ring spread across the country

Though it got its start dealing crack cocaine in Detroit, by the early 1990s, the crime ring that would one day be called the BMF had spread to Los Angeles. In LA, Southwest T oversaw imports of crack cocaine from Mexico, while Lil Meech handled distribution in Detroit and Atlanta, among several other states (via Highsnobiety). At the height of the BMF, there were over 500 people involved in the operation in various capacities, according to the 2010 book "BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family" by Mara Shalhoup.

With thousands of dollars earned daily from the illegal drug trade, Meech launched BMF Entertainment around 2004, as Highsnobiety goes on to note. Prior to that point, Meech also co-founded The Juice, a lifestyle magazine with hip-hop music coverage, according to Shalhoup in Creative Loafing. As CEO of BMF Entertainment, Meech turned to many existing connections in the hip-hop industry, including chart-topping artists like Jay-Z and others. Though the outfit supported the careers of many well-known musicians, the only rapper they ever officially signed was Barima "Bleu DaVinci" McKnight.

Bleu DaVinci and BMF Entertainment

Based on further reporting from Highsnobiety, one of the largest projects ever supported by BMF Entertainment was rapper Bleu DaVinci's music video for the song "We Still Here." The video includes cameo appearances from other rap stars like E-40, Fabolous, and Lil Meech himself. Around the same time that BMF Entertainment was formed, the Flenory brothers and Meech specifically were under FBI investigation. Despite that fact, at the height of the power, the BMF brazenly posted billboards around Atlanta stating, "The World is BMF's," a phrase DaVinci borrowed for a mixtape.

Though Bleu DaVinci (pictured) claimed he knew nothing of the criminal activities of the BMF or Meech's involvement in drug trafficking until after he inked a deal with BMF Entertainment, DaVinci was sentenced to five years in prison in 2008 for his time spent with the company. He was released in 2011, according to The U.S. Sun. 50 Cent, among others, also speculate that DaVinci may have acted as an informant or snitched on Meech, contributing to his downfall and subsequent prison sentence. DaVinci denies those allegations, as Complex reports.

The rise of Young Jeezy

Bleu DaVinci aside, the most successful artist supported by BMF entertainment was Young Jeezy, now just "Jeezy" (pictured in 2022), an associate of BMF Entertainment who would go on to sign with Def Jam Entertainment, where Jay-Z was president (via AllMusic). Like Bleu DaVinci's "We Still Here" video, Lil Meech himself shows up in Jeezy's video for the song "Soul Survivor" alongside Jay-Z, according to Highsnobiety. Another instance of Meech's involvement in Jeezy's career came when he helped finance the release party of Jeezy's 2005 Def Jam debut, "Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101".

Speaking to the Miami New Times in 2010, "BMF" author Mara Shalhoup said Meech primarily supported Jeezy's early career through lavish events like that party, as well as promoting his music at strip clubs and other establishments, "which is how rappers would make it or break it," she said. Meech also supplied fancy cars and medallion pendants for video shoots. "Jeezy was really open about his very tight relationship with Big Meech," Shalhoup said. "Jeezy shows up in all these promotional videos in which he's shouting out the Black Mafia Family and Meech," she added.

From behind bars, Meech continues to influence hip hop music

As Highsnobiety writes, only a matter of months after Young Jeezy's 2005 music video, Lil Meech and several other executives involved with the BMF and BMF Entertainment were arrested. Per The Detroit News, while Meech was serving a 30-year sentence behind bars in Oregon for money laundering and drug trafficking, it was announced his sentence would be reduced. He had demonstrated his commitment to reform through drug treatment and continued adult education; he earned his GED while in prison, and as a result, a judge ruled he would likely be a free man once more in 2028.

As of The Detroit News 2021 report, Meech's brother, Southwest T, had already been sentenced to "home confinement" as a means to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among prison populations. From behind bars, Meech continued to influence hip hop music, though, most notably rappers Rick Ross and T.I., as Highsnobiety goes on to note. Ross (pictured) speaks openly of meeting Meech on several occasions and the influence the BMF had on his hometown, Miami. In 2012, Meech defended T.I. against snitch allegations while in prison, per Vibe.

Bleu DaVinci warned 50 Cent to get his part of the BMF story right

With the BMF and BMF Entertainment story now told in the 50 Cent Starz series "BMF," Bleu DaVinci — the only rap artist BMF Entertainment ever signed — cautioned 50 Cent (pictured) to get the story right. Most notably, how his own part of the story is portrayed. In a video posted on Instagram (via HITC), DaVinci said, "The only thing I'm saying is that if they handle my name wrong, I'm coming to see you. The writers, the producers, the directors, the executive producers, y'all play with my name – I'm telling y'all right now. Y'all play with my name, it's up. Period. There won't be no more shooting."

In response, 50 Cent shared a letter on Instagram in support of the BMF series, written by Lil Meech himself, "WHAT 50 HAS DONE FOR US TO ME IS 'PRICELESS' AND THERES [sic] NOTHING WE MEANING YOU AND I WON'T DO FOR HIM EVER IF NEEDED! I LOVE YOU SON WITH ALL MY HEART 4LIFE & DEATH YOUR DAD THE REAL BIG MEECH B.M.F. IMMORTAL!"