Big Pokey, a well-known rapper from Texas and the founding member of Houston’s groundbreaking Screwed Up Click, passed away on Sunday during a Juneteenth concert. Pokey, 48, was a Milton Powell by birth.
Known for Texas and Gulf Coast songs including “Ball N’ Parlay,” “Who Dat Talking Down,” and a verse on DJ Screw’s roughly 36-minute iconic freestyle titled “June 27th,” he passed out while performing at Pour09, a Beaumont bar and nightlife venue about an hour east of Houston.
Big Pokey Cause of Death
Videos of the rapper, who was a featured artist on Megan Thee Stallion’s 2022 “Southside Royalty Freestyle,” soon went viral on social media.
In the videos, he can be seen taking a long breath into the microphone before appearing to pass out and falling onto his back. Both his publicist La’Torria Lemon and Tom Gillam III, a justice of the peace in Jefferson County, where Powell was playing, verified Pokey’s demise to The Associated Press. To find out the reason of death, family members and authorities are awaiting autopsy results.
Big Pokey, also known as Big Poyo and Podina, gained local notoriety in the late ’90s as a founding member of the Screwed Up Click, a friend group that evolved into a rap collective under DJ Screw. The pioneering DJ created the “chopped and screwed” music genre, a slowed-down, pitched-down sound that would ultimately become associated with Houston and whose mixtapes swept throughout the southeastern United States.
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Midway through the 2000s, the sound hit its peak as other well-known underground Houston musicians like Lil’ Flip, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, and UGK got deals for national distribution and brought the sound to the attention of the general public.
Pokey released “Da Game 2000” and “Hardest Pit in the Litter,” his first two albums, in 2000. Prior to the advent of streaming services, Houston’s most well-known rappers could amass fortune without ever having to tour or secure radio play outside of the city.
Pokey was raised in the southside of Houston, where he excelled in football at Yates High School and became extremely close friends with George Floyd, a Black man whose death by Minneapolis police sparked widespread outrage and forced the country to confront racism and police brutality.
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