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Houston rap legend Big Pokey, born Milton Powell, is dead at 45. His passing was unexpected as it occurred after he collapsed while performing on stage in Beaumont, TX.

Video footage of his Saturday night performance (June 17) at Pour 09 Bar shows Pokey rapping but then gasping for breath and falling on his back. Reportedly, a nurse who was in the crowd administered CPR before he was taken to a local hospital, but unfortunately he died.

“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,” read a statement from a representative confirming his death. “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!'”

Big Pokey was a member of the Screwed Up Click and a beloved member of the Houston rap scene.

“I wasn’t ready for this. One of the most naturally talented artists in the city,” said Bun B in a message he posted on Instagram shortly after learning of Pokey’s death. “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.”

RIP Big Pokey.