Influential artist Milton Powell, known by his stage name “Big Pokey,” died after collapsing on-stage during a performance Sunday in Beaumont, Texas.
The Houston rapper boosted the city’s hip-hop culture and is known for creating popular mainstream and underground hits. Big Pokey was a member of Houston’s rap collective, Screwed Up Click, which the late DJ Screw founded, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Video footage of Big Pokey’s collapse at Pour09 bar appears to show him taking a deep breath into the microphone before falling to the ground. An autopsy will be performed to establish his exact cause of death, the outlet reported, citing Jefferson County justice of the peace Tom Gillam III.
Police were on-scene during the performance and provided medical assistance to the rapper until an emergency response team arrived and rushed him to a hospital, Pour09 owner Min Dai told the Houston Chronicle. The artist was later pronounced dead.
Gillam confirmed the artist was 48 years old at the time of his death, according to AP.
A statement confirming his death was also released on Big Pokey’s official Instagram page.
“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 reads.
They assured fans more information will be shared as it becomes available.
“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!'” the statement concludes, in a personal tribute to Big Pokey’s on-stage persona.
Other artists responded on social media by paying tribute to Big Pokey and sharing loving memories of the star.
Rapper Bun B called Powell “one of the most naturally talented artists” in Houston, and referred to him as “one of the pillars of our city.”(RELATED: Three 6 Mafia Rapper Gangsta Boo Found Dead At 43, Overdose Suspected)
Some of Big Pokeys biggest hits include “Hardest Pit,” “Untamed Gorilla,” “On Choppers,” “Freestyle Pro,” “Mind and Muscle” and “Repatation.”
The hip-hop community continues to grieve over the sudden loss.