B.ig M.eech F.lenory: The AllHipHop Interview Part 1

It seems like a bygone era in Hip-Hop that will probably never been seen again. It was the apex of the streets running into Hip-Hop. In 2006, we were down in Atlanta partying with Def Jam and Young Jeezy, celebrating the success of his debut release Thug Motivation and his pending second album, The Inspiration.Everything […]

It seems like a bygone era in Hip-Hop that will probably never been seen again. It was the apex of the streets running into Hip-Hop. In 2006, we were down in Atlanta partying with Def Jam and Young Jeezy, celebrating the success of his debut release Thug Motivation and his pending second album, The Inspiration.Everything was good, the parties were poppin, money was falling from the sky like a scene out of a rap video – except this was very real. Every Atlanta rapper was there – Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, Lil Scrappy, Big Boi, Young Jeezy. I even recall seeing T.I. in the parking lot pulling up in one of his Rolls-Royce’s. While it was a party, there was tension in the air, because Jeezy had just dropped “Stay Strapped.” In addition to the strippers gyrating around the club, there were at least 50 guys looming around the club wearing B.M.F. T-shirts. This wasn’t an uncommon site at that point, B.M.F. seemed to be everywhere. Someone grabbed me and began leading me through a posse of men, some stopping and questioning me as I got closer to the center of the club. By the time we got there, Young Jeezy was clutching a bottle, looking out at the crowd with Big Meech and his assistant Yogi sitting on a couch next to him.At the time, Yogi and I would email each other about Meech and the label side of B.M.F., and their artists, so we kicked it for a little. I gave Jeezy some dap and went over and had some brief words with Meech. For his fearsome reputation, he seemed like a cool guy. We all took sips from the complimentary bottles were were clutching and went back out to the party. By this point, the strippers were scooping up trash bags full of money, literally, trash bags full. The floor was so covered in cash that you couldn’t see the ground. People were stuffing their pockets with one-dollar-bills and five-dollar-bills and they still couldn’t get it all off the ground.The next day, I paid for my breakfast with a fist-full of dollars.Most of this is on tape somewhere, from the party to the parking lot, where gunshots rang out and sent everyone scattering. I know because I was being interviewed by a cameraman when the shooting began to clear out the crowd. Later, we would learn that two dudes were killed in the parking lot that night. If you have read Mara Shalhoup’s book B.M.F., you will understand the chain of events that shooting set-off and its indirect effect on Hip-Hop music. Big Meech was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in running the $270 million cocaine distribution empire, which boasted connections to the Mexican drug cartels and sold tons of the drug around the United States from the late 1980’s until his incarceration in 2008. I reconnected with Meech last week and had a great conversation with him.Big Meech, born Demetrius Flenory, is being held at a Federal prison in Jessup, Georgia. Meech claims that he was not involved in the cocaine conspiracy side of things, he only ran the record label. His spirit has not been broken at all, in fact, he seemed very “comfortable” being in prison, making the best of his time, reading, exercising – and rolling with a B.M.F. crew in the prison, which he says has made things much easier. Big Meech is currently working hard on his appeal, which will be heading to the Supreme Court in Georgia for a final decision in 2011. AllHipHop.com: How are things behind the walls?Big Meech: I can’t complain, I am just tired of being here. Everything is good, I am getting my workout on, getting my mind right. AllHipHop.com: What are reading while you are in there? Big Meech: Urban novels and inspirational books too. I read a book called A Case for Faith by Lee Strobell, I done read Rich Dad Poor Dad, and one, hold up, I can’t remember, what’s the one everyone has read.AllHipHop.com: 48 Laws of Power? Big Meech: Man I been read that. I had about three or four of them books, I am tired of them kinds of books. AllHipHop.com: So you are a big reader or something? Big Meech: I was when I fell, i Started reading a lot. But I done slowed up a lot. You get tired of the same old things. AllHipHop.com: How long have you been in prison?Big Meech: Man I been here five years, starting six. I been locked up since 2008.AllHipHop.com: How is the appeal going? Big Meech: Man I just got shot down by the court of appeals two weeks ago. The next process is the supreme court. AllHipHop.com: Why did they shoot your appeal down?  Big Meech: The judges don’t look over your stuff like they are supposed to,  the clerks just stamp it. But me and my lawyer that’s working with me expected this denial. First process since I took a plea, you got what’s called a 2255 motion on the issues. I filed on six issues. Then you have to go through your district court. They shoot you down 9 out of 10, then you go to the court of appeals, then you have a year to wait on them. They shoot you down, so now it’s on the way to the Supreme court. AllHipHop.com: If that doesn’t go through, what’s your recourse after Supreme Court? Big Meech: My lawyers have some other strategies they will use. A lot of this they need to happen in order to get there. That’s the hard part about being in the system, it takes so long. It’s easy to get you in, but you have to go through all kinds of steps to get out. You have to let them do the wrong things to you and then come back and show it, in order to get some type of relief. It’s a long process.AllHipHop.com: You had some serious charges as well. A lot of them were outline in Mara Shalhoup’s book B.M.F. You read it? Big Meech: Yea it’s good. It’s not my life story but it enlightened me on somethings with what was happening as far as the other guys, J-Rock and them and some issues with my brother. We weren’t really with each other the years that they started their investigation. A lot of the charges they charged me with our bogus charges. AllHipHop.com: The book painted a lifestyle never seen in Hip-Hop. They say you guys went through almost $300 million in cash. How did it get to be so big?Big Meech: Everybody wants to be a part of something, especially black folks. I can even speak for my brother on this part. We aren’t violent guys, that’s why are cases are nonviolent. We have had bumps and bruises and issues that come up, but we are about getting money. We grew up poverty stricken. When you grow up in a spot like Detroit that’s probably one of the most poorest states in the country besides New Orleans – without a hurricane – we grow up in place like that. We took our show on the road getting money. We lived in a lot of different places and made a lot of friends that we helped along the way. The family just became big, bigger than we both expected. AllHipHop.com: How’s your brother doing? He got 30 years in his case too right?Big Meech: We both got 30 years and signed a plea. He’s doing alright. he’s religious now, he’s an ordained minister. I saw him on a plane coming back from Michigan a few months ago when I was out on Writ. We were called to be witnesses in a case, but we couldn’t do that, because of our pending issues. Our lawyers pled the 5th for us, but we happened to be on the same plane back. We had a chance to talk and they separated us in Oklahoma. AllHipHop.com: What brought about your brothers religious conversion?Big Meech: We grew up that way, so it wasn’t a shock to me. We were very religious growing up. My mama is a preacher/evangelist, my daddy is a deacon in the church, by grandfather was a bishop. God was always in our family. We always felt blessed.AllHipHop.com: Don’t you see any paradox in that? The way you were raised as opposed to the crimes you are accused of committing. On one hand you are  saying you are religious, but you’re accused of selling drugs that kill people and ruin families. Do you grapple with that at all? Big Meech: Not really. It’s just like selling cigarettes or liquor. And I don’t see any of that in the Bible. Not the Bible’s I’ve read. I mean I can’t say that I do. AllHipHop.com: You guys have grown into such a nationwide force. i know I remember being In Atlanta and Miami, seeing the movement. What’s become of B.M.F. as a movement since you and your brother have been locked away? Big Meech: Man its growing. It’s functioning in a different way since the heads aren’t around anymore. My brother, I love him to death. My brother had his family and I had mine. That’s why I shouldn’t been a part of this case, which is really his case. But the family has grown, where I’m at. It’s really growing from inside these walls and outside these walls. I’m really in disbelief. AllHipHop.com: How did the Rick Ross song “B.M.F.” help this past summer? What was the reaction?Big Meech: Dudes like the song, I like the song. It was a banger to be honest. People want to be a apart of something real and I think this is as real as it gets for our time. AllHipHop.com: I know the Rick Ross situation caused some tension between Young Jeezy and Rick Ross, cause many people felt Jeezy should have made that kind of record. Big Meech: I talked to Jeezy, he came up here and saw me after the song. He told me how he felt. I understood where he was coming from a little bit. But like I told him, I didn’t have a problem with the song. He should have done one. You’re supposed to rep your family. Like Ross, I didn’t have no problem with Ross. My mother spoke with him, it’s been all good between them and offered to help her with her foundation. If it’s any more added tension between them, that came after him visiting me. I can’t say what his gripe is right now, because I haven’t spoke to him in a few months. But when I spoke with him, I tried to keep it from going towards any beef.