On the streets of Southwest Detroit, Layton (The Beast) Simon garners just as much, if not more, respect and reverence than that of more high-profile Southwest Detroit drug dons Demetrius (Big Meech) Flenory and Walter (The Black Fox) Cason. According to Motown underworld lore, a beef between Simon and Big Meech drove Flenory from Detroit in the 1990s leading him to headquarter his burgeoning drug empire in Atlanta and not his hometown of “The D.”

Flenory’s Black Mafia Family went on to become the largest and most iconic urban crime syndicate in American history with satellites in a dozen major U.S. cities. The storied “BMF” crew was busted in 2005 and Flenory and his baby brother Terry (Southwest T) Flenory are both serving 30-year prison sentences. Over a decade removed from his dope boy megastar days, Big Meech remains a ubiquitous part of hip-hop pop culture, constantly name-checked in rap anthems and advocated for by music-world luminaries like 50 Cent, L.L. Cool J, T.I. and Fabulous.

50 Cent is currently developing a BMF television show. His gritty, yet sleek crime-drama Power is the highest-rated show on the Starz cable network the past few years. There have been a reported five drafts of a pilot script penned already and at least three of them, per sources connected to the project, as a character based on Simon in it and depicts the conflict that resulted in the Flenorys’ relocation. Southwest T Flenory subsequently set up camp in Los Angeles, however, left behind a number of key loyalists behind to do BMF bidding in the Motor City.

Big Meech (R) & Southwest T (L) in their younger days on the come up in SW Detroit

Walter Cason controlled the drug trade on the near Southwest side of Detroit and several of its surrounding factory-community suburbs in the 1970s. The far Southwest side of the city is primarily Hispanic in population opposed to the Delray neighborhood in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge to Canada and closer to Downtown Detroit, which is mostly African-American.

Simon came up under Cason and when Cason went away to prison in 1978, he grabbed the territory for himself. It was in that capacity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he began butting heads with the aspiring Flenory brothers.

Today, even though far away from his days as the area’s preeminent crime lord, Simon’s name holds weight on the block in Southwest Detroit and in low-income, smoggy suburbs like Inkster, River Rouge, Romulus and Ecorse. Southwest Detroit rapper Psyke Sconi put out a song called “OG Layton Simon” in 2014, releasing a video on Youtube with Simon himself making an appearance talking into the camera at the end. Psyke Sconi is affiliated with Detroit rap royal Trick Trick, the self-styled gatekeeper of the local hip hop scene.


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