Milton Powell, better known by his stage name Big Pokey, was a Houston rap legend and a pioneer of the “chopped-and-screwed” sound. He died on Sunday at the age of 45, after collapsing on stage during a performance in Beaumont, Texas.
Big Pokey was one of the original members of the Screwed Up Click, a group of Houston-based rappers who followed the style of DJ Screw, who died in 2000. The “chopped-and-screwed” sound involved slowing down the tempo and pitch of the music, creating a low-slung and laid-back vibe.
Big Pokey had a deep and distinctive voice that matched his imposing stature. He rose to fame with his debut album Hardest Pit in the Litter in 1999, and later appeared on Paul Wall’s hit single Sittin Sidewayz in 2005. He also collaborated with Megan Thee Stallion on Southside Royalty Freestyle in 2022.
On Saturday night, Big Pokey was performing at a Juneteenth-themed event at the Pour09 Bar in Beaumont, when he suddenly fell backwards on stage with his microphone still in his hand. A video of the incident was shared on social media. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died on Sunday. The cause of death has not been announced.
His publicist confirmed his death in a statement, saying: “He was well loved by his family, friends, and his loyal fans. Big Pokey will forever be ‘The Hardest Pit In The Litter!’”
Many artists and fans paid tribute to Big Pokey on social media, including fellow Screwed Up Click members Bun B and Slim Thug. Bun B wrote on Instagram: “One of the pillars of our city. If heart of gold was a person.”
Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner also expressed his condolences on Twitter, saying: “His presence was larger than life in helping to catapult our hip hop scene nationally.”