Houston emcee Big Pokey has passed away at the age of 45. Prior to his death, the rapper (real name Milton Powell) fainted during his performance at a bar in Beaumont, Texas. However, although many outlets have insinuated that his passing may be due to respiratory issues, the official cause of death is yet to be reported.
The lyricist was rushed to a hospital shortly after his collapse but died shortly after his arrival. Powell, alongside artists such as Slim Thug and Scarface, was a key player within the Houston hip-hop scene and contributed to its ascension during the 1990s.
Following the official announcement of his death, the deceased rapper’s publicist released a statement reading, “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. He was well-loved by his family, his friends, and his loyal fans.”
The statement continued, “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.'”
Powell became a prominent figure alongside DJ Screw (real name Robert Davis Jr), a Houston legend responsible for the region’s iconic ‘Chopped And Screwed’ scene. In 1996, Screw invited the Houston icon to freestyle over a chopped and screwed instrumental that featured on one of Davis’ Screw Tapes. The DJ and emcee would later join forces to found the Screwed Up Click.
The freestyle gained a lot of traction locally. Following a short stint in university, he later returned to Houston to release his debut album, Hardest Pit in the Litter, which spread like wildfire across the South. In 2000 he released his sophomore project D-Game, and continued to grow.
The emcee released a total of eight mixtapes and six studio Wreckshop Records albums in his career and, as a local hero, worked exceptionally closely with Wreckshop Records, an independent Houston-based record label, that was home to acts such as Fat Pat, Big Moe, E.S.G., Pymp Tyte and Big Pokey.