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American Gangster is a television series that offers gripping insight into the history of some of the most notorious Black-American criminal minds whose names are etched in the minds and hearts of many. These criminals range from murderers to drug dealers and robbers.

In each episode of this BET documentary production, the narrator, Ving Rhames, using his distinctively precise baritone of his, concentrates on a particular crime lord.

He examines, in depth, circumstances that surrounded each individual during their rise to fame (or infamy).

He also looks at how the infamous figure organized and managed his crime operations.

The series covers some compelling figures: there is Stanley Tookie Williams, a former Crips leader who was later awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against gangs and gang violence and then later executed for his numerous murderers while he was gang leader.

Another example are The Smith Brothers, who run San Francisco's most notorious ring of jewelry thieves.

American Gangster is careful to offer a critical analysis of these characters without seeming to praise their criminal acts, and it succeeds here where several similar documentaries have struggled.

The level of depth involved helps a great deal, offering a detached view that shows how these criminal minds run their crime rings, exposing some of their internal workings, and things of that nature. It uses news and magazine snippets as well as previously unused footage, and includes interviews and photography with telling detail.

The show also examines how these figures affected their communities, pointing out the social, economic and political impact that these people had in the neighborhoods that they lived in, while using more than just one perspective.

Unlike most television series that use a more fictional approach that emphasizes entertainment and glamorization to a certain extent, American Gangster is insightful while being quite deliberately objective.

It helps one forge a better understanding of how these infamous figures and crime lords imprinted their names into Black history.

American Gangster is a series that is currently running and has 3 seasons (26 episodes). The series first aired on November 28, 2006.

Where do I stream American Gangster online? American Gangster is available for streaming on BET, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch American Gangster on demand at BET+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV online.

3 Seasons, 26 Episodes
November 28, 2006
Documentary & Biography
Cast: Ving Rhames
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American Gangster Full Episode Guide

  • Mutulu Shakur, former leader of the Black Liberation Army and step father of the late Tupac Shakur, is featured in the finale for season 3.

  • The Romper Room Gang are a group of bank robbers in the San Fransisco/Bay Area suburb of Vallejo region of California, who are guilty of dozens of robberies in the mid-90's. Mac Dre was a convicted rap artist who's tracks are inspired by the gangs robberies. Other Romper Room gang members became major players on the music scene and made the Vallejo area a hot bed for rap.

  • A profile of a Jamaican gang which is involved in politics on the island.

  • The profile of a Chicago gang lord, Willie Lloyd, who became involved in anti-violence programs after he was released from prison.

  • Guy Fisher is profiled in this episode, who was the original black owner of Harlem's Apollo Theater and a convicted drug dealer.

  • An examination of a government counterintelligence program established by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in the 1950's known as COINTELPRO, as a means of disrupting dissident political organizations, including those champion civil rights and Communism.

  • Cornell Jones, a former inmate and founder of nonprofit organization Miracle Hands is profiled.

  • A profile of Robert "Midget" Molley, an Atlantic City drug lord who was well known for making $1 million a month, his small stature and wearing a gold crown. Molley, who was sent to prison in 1989, now is fighting for the rights of the Muslim prisoners after claiming he has been abused by guards for his beliefs.

  • Monster Kody Scott (aka Sanyika Shakur) who is the author of the book "Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gangster" is profiled.

  • A closer look at the life and crimes of a New York drug dealer, Kenneth 'Supreme' McGriff, who becomes involved in the music industry and his conviction of killing a pair of rivals.

  • A look at the life and crimes committed by 1980's Washington D.C. drug lord, Rayful Edmond III.

  • A inside look at Chaz Williams and how his career path leaned him into the music business.

  • A profile of Jeff Fort, a Chicago street gang leader who merged a bunch of smaller gangs into one huge organization in the 1960's. Includes footage of Fort's speech to Islam and a look at his connection with political figures.

  • Felix Mitchell was an Oakland kingpin who lived an extravagant lifestyle before his imprisonment in 1985, and susequent stabbing in 1986. Interviews include Too $hort and Yukmouth, former Oakland mayor Elihu Harris.

  • Profiling John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the men behind the 2002 sniper killings in the Washington D.C. area.

  • Chronicling the exploits of "Little Melvin" Williams, a drug kingpin credited for revolutionizing Baltimore's heroin trade.

  • Profiling Larry Hoover, the incarcerated leader of Chicago's Gangster Disciples. Among those weighing in on Hoover's impact on gang culture and on current activities are his family, friends and federal prosecutors.

Most Popular American Gangster Episodes