Houston rapper Big Pokey dies at 48

While his cause of death remains unclear, social media videos showed Milton "Big Pokey" Powell on stage experiencing a medical emergency.

Rapper Big Pokey died Sunday after collapsing on stage during a performance in Texas.

While his cause of death remains unclear, social media videos showed Milton “Big Pokey” Powell on stage in Beaumont when he experienced a medical emergency, according to KPRC Click2Houston. The Houston-born rhymer was 48.

“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our beloved Milton ‘Big Pokey’ Powell,” Pokey’s publicist shared in a statement. “Big Pokey passed away on June 18, 2023. He was well loved by his family, his friends, and his loyal fans.”

Big Pokey dies
Milton “Big Pokey” Powell performs Jan. 19, 2020, during the birthday celebration for Z-Ro at the House of Blues in Houston. Powell, a Houston rapper credited with elevating the city’s hip-hop scene, died Sunday after collapsing during a show in Texas. (Photo: Jamaal Ellis/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The announcement noted that details on Powell’s memorial service, and how the public can pay their tributes will be made public in the coming days. Additionally, the statement urged people to respect family members’ privacy. 

Part of the Screwed Up Click rap collective, Big Pokey was well-known for his freestyles and performed on “June 27th Freestyle.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was one of several who posted a Twitter message in memory of the rapper.

“The City of Houston and I extend our prayers and condolences to our own Screwed Up Click legendary rapper #BigPokey family and friends,” the mayor tweeted, KPRC reported. “Though many called him “low key,” his presence was larger than life in helping to catapult our hip hop scene nationally. We are grateful.”

UGK legend Bun B, another member of Screwed Up Click, also expressed his sympathies and referred to Pokey as one of the city’s most naturally gifted artists and a pillar. 

“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,” Bun B posted on Instagram, according to KPRC.

“Iconic member of the SUC,” he continued. “There will never be another and will be missed dearly. We love and honor you Sensei. Rest in heaven.”

“Hardest Pit in the Litter,” Pokey’s full-length 1999 debut LP, was considered a classic, according to Spotify.

“Big Pokey,” his publicist added in the statement, “will forever be ‘The Hardest Pit in the Litter!'”

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