Veteran Houston rapper Big Pokey (aka Melvin Powell) died Saturday night shortly after collapsing on stage during a Beaumont, Texas performance. He was 45 and the cause of death has not been determined.
Video from the performance shows Big Pokey gasping in mid-lyric, then falling on his back. A nurse in the crowd administered CPR, and shortly thereafter, he was taken to a hospital just after midnight. He died shortly after.
Big Pokey was seen as a founder of the Houston rap scene with the group Screw up Click. His 1999 solo debut, “The Hardest Pit in the Litter,” brought him to greater attention. He since released numerous albums and collaborations, with his last work 2021’s “Sensei.”
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A statement from Big Pokey’s representatives confirmed his death.
“Big Pokey passed away … He was well loved by his family, his friends, and his loyal fans. 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!’”
Houston rapper Bun B posted online about the death. “I wasn’t ready for this. One of the most naturally talented artists in the city. 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. Iconic member of the SUC. There will never be another and will be missed dearly. We love and honor you Sensei. Rest in heaven.”
No information on survivors was immediately available.
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