Houston’s rap scene is mourning the loss of one of its pioneers, Big Pokey, who died on Sunday, June 18, after collapsing on stage during a performance at a bar in Beaumont, Texas. The cause of death is not yet known, and an autopsy is pending.
Big Pokey, whose real name was Milton Powell, was a founding member of the Screwed Up Click, a collective of rappers led by the late DJ Screw, who popularized the chopped and screwed style of remixing songs by slowing them down and adding effects. Big Pokey was known for his deep voice, witty rhymes and street credibility.
He released his debut album, The Hardest Pit in the Litter, in 1999, which featured hits like “Menage Trois” and “Ball N Parlay”. He followed up with D-Game in 2000 and Da Sky’s Da Limit in 2002. His latest album, Sensai, came out in 2021. He also collaborated with other Houston rap legends like Lil Keke, Z-Ro, Slim Thug and Paul Wall.
Big Pokey’s influence extended beyond Houston, as he appeared on tracks with artists like Scarface, E-40, Chamillionaire and Mike Jones. He also gained recognition from mainstream media outlets like XXL Magazine and MTV. Last year, he featured on Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Southside Royalty Freestyle” with Sauce Walka and Lil Keke.
His death was announced on his Instagram account, where a statement read: “It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our beloved Milton “Big Pokey” Powell…He was well-loved by his family, his friends, and his loyal fans. In the coming days, we will release information about his celebration of life and how the public can pay their respects. We ask that you respect his family and their privacy during this difficult time. Big Pokey will forever be “The Hardest Pit in the Litter”.
Tributes poured in from fellow rappers and fans on social media. Bun B, another member of the Screwed Up Click, wrote on Instagram: “I wasn’t ready for this”. One of the most naturally talented artists in the city. Low key, humble mountain of a man who moved with honor and respect…He was easy to love and hard to hate. He’d pull up, do what he had to do and head home. One of the pillars of our city.”
Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner also expressed his condolences on Twitter: “The City of Houston and I extend our prayers and condolences to our own Screwed Up Click legendary rapper #BigPokey family and friends…His presence was larger than life in helping to catapult our hip hop scene nationally.”
Big Pokey leaves behind a legacy of music that will continue to inspire generations of rap fans and artists. He was 45 years old.
Big Pokey (born Milton Powell on December 4, 1977) was a Houston rapper and a founding member of the Screwed Up Click collective. He started rapping with DJ Screw in the early 1990s and became one of the most prominent figures in the Houston rap scene. He released several albums and mixtapes throughout his career, showcasing his distinctive voice and lyrical skills. He collaborated with many local and national artists and earned respect from critics and fans alike. He died on June 18, 2023 after collapsing on stage during a performance.