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Houston Rapper Big Pokey Dies After Collapsing Onstage

19 June 2023 | 3:20 pm | Emma Whines

"We ask that you respect his family and their privacy during this difficult time."

Big Pokey

Big Pokey ((Source: Facebook))

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Longtime Houston rapper Big Pokey, real name Milton Powell, has died after collapsing while performing. He was 45. 

The rapper was performing a show at a bar in the city of Beaumont, Texas last Saturday night (June 17) when he suddenly collapsed. Aid rushed to his side, with fans and a policeman trying to regain his consciousness. Shortly after, paramedics arrived and drove him to a nearby hospital, where he eventually passed away. At the time of writing, his cause of death is still unclear. 

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Big Pokey's publicist delivered a statement via KPRC Click2Houston, saying, “It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our beloved Milton ‘Big Pokey’ Powell. Big Pokey passed away on June 18, 2023."

The statement continued, “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!’”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was one of the first to pay tribute to the late rapper, tweeting, “The City of Houston and I extend our prayers and condolences to our own Screwed Up Click legendary rapper #BigPokey family and friends.

“Though many called him ‘low key’, his presence was larger than life in helping to catapult our hip hop scene nationally. We are grateful.”

Other support poured in from fellow rappers in the area, with Bun B penning this heartfelt tribute: “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. If heart of gold was a person. Iconic member of the SUC. There will never be another, and will be missed dearly. We love and honor you Sensei. Rest in heaven.”

Big Pokey helped to pioneer Houston’s “chopped-and-screwed” approach to hip-hop, which referred to slowing the pitch of the underlying track to create a heavy, laid-back sound.

Milton Powell joined the “chopped-and-screwed” scene as a teenager. Known for his baritone singing style, Big Pokey had his first hit with a six-minute-long appearance on the 1996 epic June 27th. He released his debut album, Hardest Pit In The Litter, in 1999. He put out two subsequent albums, D-Game 2000 and Da Sky’s Da Limit, over the next three years.