American Gangster

Watch American Gangster

  • 2006
  • 3 Seasons
  • 7.9  (228)

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
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Seasons
Mutulu Shakur
10. Mutulu Shakur
January 22, 2008
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.
Romper Room Gang
9. Romper Room Gang
January 15, 2009
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.
The Jamaican Shower Posse
8. The Jamaican Shower Posse
January 8, 2008
A profile of a Jamaican gang which is involved in politics on the island.
Willie Lloyd
7. Willie Lloyd
December 11, 2008
The profile of a Chicago gang lord, Willie Lloyd, who became involved in anti-violence programs after he was released from prison.
Guy Fisher
6. Guy Fisher
December 4, 2008
Guy Fisher is profiled in this episode, who was the original black owner of Harlem's Apollo Theater and a convicted drug dealer.
J. Edgar Hoover & COINTELPRO
5. J. Edgar Hoover & COINTELPRO
November 20, 2008
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
4. Cornell Jones
November 13, 2008
Cornell Jones, a former inmate and founder of nonprofit organization Miracle Hands is profiled.
Midget Molley
3. Midget Molley
November 6, 2008
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.
2. "Monster" Kody
October 30, 2008
Monster Kody Scott (aka Sanyika Shakur) who is the author of the book "Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gangster" is profiled.
Larry Davis
1. Larry Davis
October 23, 2008
A profile of Larry Davis, the controversial convicted murderer. Having gained notoriety in 1986 after a shootout with policemen wounded six of the officers and later charged the police department with corruption by dragging him into the drug trade.
Description

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 to Watch American Gangster

American Gangster is available for streaming on the BET website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch American Gangster on demand at BET+, Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

  • Premiere Date
    November 28, 2006
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (228)