Big Smoke was a high-ranking member of the Grove Street Families who later defected to the Ballas, and made clandestine deals with the Los Santos Vagos and Russian Mafia, eventually becoming the most powerful crook in the criminal underworld of Los Santos.
Big Smoke makes multiple references to his desire to be remembered after his death.
Big Smoke appears to speak some Spanish, as seen in the mission Running Dog. He tries to get weed from some Vagos members and after being cursed at, he threatens one of the Vagos members who then responds with "Chinga a tu madre, pendejo" which roughly translates as "Fuck your mother, asshole".
His favorite radio station is Bounce FM.
Big Smoke was born in Los Santos, likely in Ganton due to his close relationship with Sweet and Carl Johnson, and he later joined the Grove Street Families. He rose through the ranks of the gang until he became Sweet's right-hand man, Carl's departure in 1987 following his brother's death helped Smoke and Sweet develop a closer relationship.
Big Smoke quotes from the Bible on many occasions, hinting that he may be religious, though Carl claims he's "still talking shit."
Joining the Ballas
Big Smoke, sometime after Carl's departure, moved to Idlewood after buying a house with some money he claims his aunt left him in her will. The Grove Street Families, however, began to lose influence and status among the city's gangs, noticing that the Ballas, who controlled Idlewood, were selling drugs to fuel their rising influence. He then tries to persuade Sweet to allow the Grove Street Families to sell more potent drugs (since the Families already sell marijuana and PCP), although Sweet refuses because he believes crack cocaine has a destructive influence on the communities it is sold in.
At some point, Big Smoke forms a clandestine alliance with the Ballas and begins to cooperate with them. Smoke later includes the Los Santos Vagos and the Russian Mafia, who were hoping to get a foothold in Los Santos, into his new alliance. They also form an alliance with the Loco Syndicate, who began supplying them with various drugs from their base in San Fierro, although unbeknownst to the group, an undercover government agent is monitoring the operation.
Events of GTA San Andreas
In 1992, after failing to convince Sweet, he goes to Ryder and convinces him to join forces with the Ballas, who later attempt to kill Sweet but fail, instead killing his mother. The death of Beverly Johnson leads to her son, Carl, returning from Liberty City, and Carl meets Smoke inside his childhood house. Smoke initially mistook Carl for a burglar, but immediately accepts the return of his old friend, contrary to Sweet, who remains initially hostile. It is not until later in the game that his true intentions with the Ballas-C.R.A.S.H. unit are revealed, but on several occasions prior to his exposure as a traitor, many subtle hints appear foreshadowing it.
Smoke appears alongside Carl, Sweet and Ryder at the funeral of several GSF members. However, during the mission, the attackers will only attack Carl and Sweet, avoiding Smoke and Ryder. He also appears playing basketball with Sweet in Tagging up Turf, and also briefly appears in Cleaning the Hood at Sweet's house. In the mission Drive-Thru, Sweet, Carl, Smoke and Ryder decide to eat at Cluckin' Bell; however, they are attacked by Ballas whilst eating. Smoke's refusal to shoot at the Ballas (claiming that he would only shoot when he was done eating) was another hint to his betrayal.
After appearing in the introductory scene of Nines and AKs, Smoke later helped the gang in the mission Drive-By. After this, Smoke gives his own missions to Carl; the first is to collect OG Loc from Pershing Square police station as he has been paroled from prison. The next is to help Smoke eliminate a Vagos member. In the mission Wrong Side of the Tracks, before Smoke and Carl work to kill more Vagos, Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski are seen leaving Smoke's house; however, Smoke's comment that they are simply "nosey" hints that he is not so hostile towards them. Carl would then later assist Smoke in taking down Russian Mafia members in the mission Just Business, and Smoke would later assist Carl, Ryder and Sweet in the mission Reuniting the Families.
After Sweet explains to CJ that he is going to go to the Mulholland Intersection to ambush some Ballas members, Cesar Vialpando, the boyfriend of Sweet and Carl's sister Kendl and also a friend of Carl's, phones Carl and tells him that he must urgently come to an alleyway in Verdant Bluffs. Carl meets Cesar in the alleyway, where the duo witness Smoke and Ryder, along with C.R.A.S.H. officers Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski, and also some more Ballas members with the car used in the drive-by shooting that killed Beverly Johnson. Carl finally realises the true colours of Smoke and Ryder and how they are complicit in his mother's death, but he is unable to confront the alliance between the game's three antagonistic groups (C.R.A.S.H., Ballas, Smoke/Ryder) and is forced to go to Mulholland Intersection to save his brother from a Ballas ambush during a shootout. Sweet is injured during the shootout, but Carl is uninjured and continues fighting the Ballas. The police arrive and the duo are arrested, with Sweet taken to a prison hospital upstate and Carl to Angel Pine in Whetstone by Tenpenny, Pulaski and Jimmy Hernandez.
Rise to power
In the absence of both Sweet and Carl, Smoke and Ryder disband the Grove Street Families, leaving Ganton and all other Grove Street territory in the hands of the Ballas. A few Grove Street Families members, meanwhile, begin working as drug smugglers, taking them from the Loco Syndicate factory in Doherty, San Fierro back to Los Santos. Cesar Vialpando, discovers this and alerts Carl Johnson, who stops a number of the suppliers from reaching Los Santos in order to disrupt the flow of drugs into the city. Carl and Cesar later photograph Ryder with three men, later identified as Jizzy B., T-Bone Mendez and Mike Toreno. Carl, upon returning to his garage in San Fierro has Wu Zi Mu and his Triad allies discover more about the trio.
Carl then begins to work for Jizzy B, attempting to gather more information on the operation, and later gains his trust. Carl, however, later kills Jizzy, San Fierro Rifa leader T-Bone Mendez and undercover agent Mike Toreno (or so he thought) as well as Ryder, before destroying their drug manufacturing factory, stopping the supply back to Los Santos. Smoke, however, is undeterred and instead starts his manufacturing plant in East Los Santos. He also begins working as the manager of OG Loc, an aspiring rapper and childhood friend of both Smoke and Carl, who aided him by sabotaging the career of rap superstar Madd Dogg. He also attempts to style himself as a philanthropist when he is interviewed on West Coast Talk Radio (which can be heard on the radio any time after the mission Pier 69) saying that he is using his money to try and stop the sale of drugs in Los Santos, despite being the major drug baron of the city.
Big Smoke, like Ryder, continues to wear green clothing after his betrayal of the Grove Street Families becomes common knowledge. This is because Big Smoke and Ryder only have one coded outfit.
In the meantime, Carl is reunited with Toreno, who used a decoy on his scheduled departing flight, and begins working for him attacking those harming American interests. In return, Toreno has Sweet released from prison and the Johnson brothers return home, reclaiming Ganton for the Grove Street Families, who once again ally themselves with the formerly absent leaders. By this time, Smoke had undergone a personality shift; he had become increasingly paranoid, reclusive, hateful of the world around him and had a massive loss of self-esteem. He secluded himself in his drug manufacturing plant smoking crack, away from the massive riots engulfing the streets of Los Santos. Sweet and Carl continue their attack on the Ballas, retaking both Glen Park (in Beat Down on B Dup) and Idlewood (in Grove 4 Life).
The Johnsons then decide to take down Big Smoke and his operation, using a SWAT Tank to break into his drug manufacturing plant. Carl then proceeds to shoot his way past the many Ballas, Los Santos Vagos, Russian Mafia and San Fierro Rifa goons in the factory to reach the top floor, where he finds Big Smoke. The two get involved in a gunfight, which is won by Carl, who manages to talk to Smoke about his betrayal before his death. Smoke, showing remorse for his actions, tells Carl that he "got caught up" in the money and power he was able to obtain. He reminds Carl that when he is dead, people "will remember his name" before dying from his injuries inflicted by Carl. Carl shows remorse for Smoke but is interrupted by Tenpenny. Carl flees the burning crack palace and chases Tenpenny. The story comes to an end when Tenpenny crashes the Fire Truck he is driving off the bridge over Grove Street, before dying of his injuries in the middle of Grove Street.
Big Smoke is initially introduced into the game as a cheerful yet somewhat reckless friend of Carl. Unlike Sweet, who frequently scolded Carl for being a "busta" due to him leaving Los Santos and holding him "responsible" for the death of their brother, Big Smoke frequently comforts the grieving Carl and encourages him to work for the gang, even promising to find the people responsible for his mother's death, despite being responsible (albeit inadvertently) for the drive-by shooting that killed her.
Big Smoke occasionally finds himself at odds with the Los Santos Vagos due to their frequent dispute with the drug business (not revealed to the player until after his betrayal), and he often decided to confront them with Carl's assistance. Though his recklessness has occasionally placed him in a dangerous situation, such as when the drug deal with the Russian Mafia went awry and Carl had to save him during the ambush and subsequent chase.
Another notable trait of Big Smoke is his appetite. He occasionally orders and consumes an unhealthy amount of junk food to satisfy his hunger, causing the other Families members to quip about his weight, to which Smoke responded that he was just "more well-fed" and "big-boned" than the others, and that he "ain't never ate from a trash can." This behavior is often depicted in the story as comic relief, especially during the mission Drive-Thru, in which Big Smoke places the now famous "order" from Cluckin' Bell and even steals Ryder's food during the chase with the Ballas, justifying his refusal to attack the Ballas as not wanting to spoil his food.
Big Smoke often portrays himself as a mentor of Carl. He uses a Bible quote to teach Carl to be "ice cold" and tells Carl to "remember me when you get to the top", to Carl's amusement or irritation.
After Carl discovered Smoke's and Ryder's betrayals, Frank Tenpenny later revealed that he and C.R.A.S.H. were responsible for Smoke's betrayal, after he gives Smoke and Ryder "a lesson" and makes him "do what exactly he's told" from Tenpenny.
Following Carl's exile from Los Santos, Carl ventured around the state of San Andreas and became a highly successful individual. Big Smoke, meanwhile, has become more increasingly reclusive and paranoid. He locked himself inside his drug factory surrounded by bodyguards, and wearing body armor at all times, claiming that "all crazy cats out there want a piece of me". When he confronts Carl for the final time, Smoke express his hatred for Tenpenny, his right hand man, and the Police. Smoke tells Carl he knows about his success and asks Carl why he wants to settle the score, even though Carl has "got the whole world" with him and that Smoke is forced to stay inside due to him feeling that "the whole world" is against him. Smoke shows no remorse for his decisions, describing himself as "a success" who "can't be touched".
After the gunfight, a dying Smoke began to feel remorse for his decisions. He confessed to Carl that he got "caught up in the money and the power" from his decisions. He claims that despite the fact he "had no choice" and "had to do it" because of Tenpenny's manipulation, he saw it as an "opportunity" to be remembered by everyone in Los Santos.
- Sweet: "What's up with Smoke?"
- Carl: "You know what's up with Smoke. He always saw things a little different than us."
- Kendl: "Smoke? Smoke was always on his own, always out for self."
- —Carl and Kendl Johnson discussing about Smoke's legacy to their older brother following Smoke and Tenpenny's death.
In the end, the legacy that Big Smoke wished everyone to "remember (his) name" by is a tainted one. Big Smoke is viewed by the Johnson siblings as a selfish individual who "saw things a little differently than us" and seeks a chance to become a "celebrity" by any means necessary, even if it meant betraying his friends and the gang. Carl even offered to help Smoke fight Tenpenny back had he told him about Tenpenny's plans much earlier, but Smoke simply dismissed it to pursue his own ambitions to become the successful individual who leaves an everlasting impact, even if it cost him his "whole world" and led to his eventual demise.
Big Smoke drove a blue Glendale with a white roof, which has the license plate A2TMFK. Opinions on the meaning of this are varied: Some believe it to be an acronym for "a two-timing motherfucker", a reference to his betrayal of the Grove Street Families. Some believe it to be an acronym for "a two-ton motherfucker", a reference to his weight, and some believe it to be a reference to the Cypress Hill song "A to the motherfucking K", which was released in 1993 (one year after the events of GTA San Andreas).
The beta version of Big Smoke is shown wearing a white Los Santos Saints jersey and black trousers, with Smoke having a bald head, which can be seen on the statue of Smoke in the drug manufacturing factory in East Los Santos. Or on the back of the PS2 case (Top, Middle) and also Sweet, and Ryder without his hat and his sunglasses.
Prominent Appearances in Missions
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- The Introduction
- Big Smoke
- Sweet & Kendl
- Tagging Up Turf
- Cleaning the Hood
- Nines and AKs
- OG Loc (boss)
- Running Dog (boss)
- Wrong Side of the Tracks (boss)
- Just Business (boss)
- Reuniting the Families
- The Green Sabre (betrayal)
- End of the Line (killed)
- "You picked the wrong house, fool!" - Big Smoke mistaking Carl for a burglar in Big Smoke.
- "The streets is cold, Dog. Like it says in the book, we are blessed and cursed." - Big Smoke to Carl in Big Smoke.
- "I'll have two number 9s, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7, two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda." - Big Smoke when ordering meals in Drive-Thru, one of the other most memorable lines in the entire GTA series.
- "I can't stand cold food. Unlike you, I ain't never ate from a trash can." - Big Smoke to others in Drive-Thru.
- "Hey, kill that asshole! Shit, this is a great sandwich!" - Big Smoke to others as he continues eating in Drive-Thru.
- "Man, if you can eat your food, while everyone else is losing theirs and blaming you, you straight, homie!" - Big Smoke on the way back to his house in Drive-Thru.
- "I admire you, Carl. You're a leader, a visionary. Remember me when you get to the top." - Big Smoke to Carl on their way to Emmet's in Nines and AKs.
- "Cap your ass! And your ass! You want some too? Ice cold, baby! I knew I was the chosen one!" - Big Smoke when shooting at beer bottles in Nines and AKs.
- "Damn, you a killer baby, ice cold! But remember something, real strength comes from within, my brother." - Big Smoke to Carl Johnson after shooting practice in Nines and AKs..
- "People have to open their eyes, and their hearts, CJ... I'm talking about the choices all men face, brother. Sometimes, they seem real, but other times there's no choice at all." - Big Smoke to Carl on their way back in Nines and AKs.
- "Everybody is my cousin!" - Big Smoke to Carl Johnson in Running Dog.
- "Coughio up el weedo, before I blow your brains out all over the patio!" - Big Smoke to other Vagos members in Running Dog.
- "The wise sheep does what he says, and only eats the greenest grass, while the foolish sheep gets eaten alive by the heathens." - Big Smoke to Carl Johnson on their way to Unity Station in Wrong Side of the Tracks. The line was omitted from the final game.
- "All we had to do, was follow the damn train, CJ!" - Big Smoke to Carl Johnson if Wrong Side of the Tracks is failed, perhaps one of the most memorable lines throughout the entire GTA series.
- "Yo, eh eh, don't ask a wise man, friend. Ask a fool." - Big Smoke to Carl Johnson after killing the Vagos members in Wrong Side of the Tracks.
- "Shit! That's gonna be a hell of a story to tell when we passin' the blunt!" - Big Smoke to others after their narrow escape in Reuniting the Families.
- "Man fuck Tenpenny and fuck his Polish lap dog, and fuck the police, man. All that's old shit. Look at you, you got the whole world. I ain't got no regrets, man. I made it, CJ! I'm a success. I can't be touched! I don't give a fuck, fuck the whole world." - Big Smoke to Carl Johnson in End of the Line, before getting involved in a shootout with him.
- "I got caught up in the money, the power... I don't give a shit. Oh fuck, man... I had no choice... I had to do it... I just see the opportunity. When I'm gone, everyone gonna remember my name... Big Smoke!" - Big Smoke to Carl in End of the Line after the shootout, before drawing his last breath.
- Sometimes, after Carl receives a haircut from Old Reece at Reece's Hair & Facial Studio, Reece can sometimes be heard asking Carl to "tell Big Smoke he needs a cut", despite the ironic fact that Smoke is bald; hence the reason he hasn't came for one. However, during the second mission "Ryder", it is implied by Ryder that Old Reece has Alzheimer's disease.
- Big Smoke's Glendale has Bounce FM set as its default radio station and in the missions Nines and AKs, and the song Funky Worm by Ohio Players can be heard on the radio, implying that it could be his favorite radio station.
- In the mission Drive-Thru, it is revealed that Big Smoke has tried going on a bread only diet.
- Big Smoke is shown to have two large bullet holes in his armour following the shootout during End of the Line, regardless of how he is killed.
- During his discussion of building an orphanage on WCTR, Smoke claims that he was an orphan himself. Whether this is true or not is unknown.
- Official Playstation 2 Magazine AU July 2004