Ball N-Parlay artist Milton Powell
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Big Pokey, rapper behind Ball N-Parlay, passes away

The Houston rapper created the song that has become a mainstay at Tuskegee University.

Houston rapper Milton Powell, better known as Big Pokey, passed away on Saturday night after collapsing during a performance at a bar in Beaumont, Texas. Powell recorded the song Ball N-Parlay on his debut album, “Hardest Pit in the Litter” which debuted in 1999. The song has since become the signature song of the Marching Crimson Pipers at Tuskegee University.

Powell would later put out two subsequent albums, D-Game 2000 and Da Sky’s Da Limit, over the course of the next three years. But his lore within the circles of HBCU bands and fans lies with the hit song Ball N-Parlay.

The marching band does not appear during football season without playing the song. Members of the crowd at Tuskegee sing the lyrics along with the band with a slight alteration to customize the song for the University. It is instantly recognizable when the music starts and the crowd reacts accordingly every time.

Powell was 45 years old at the time of his death, and was performing during a Juneteenth celebration in Texas.

The rapper was a legend in Houston as a member of the city’s “Screwed up Click” music group. Houston mayor Sylvester Turner offered his condolences on Twitter Saturday night.

“The City of Houston and I extend our prayers and condolences to our own Screwed Up Click legendary rapper #BigPokey family and friends. Though many called him “low key”, his presence was larger than life in helping to catapult our hip hop scene nationally. We are grateful,” Turner posted.

The sound of Houston

Powell helped to craft the sound of Houston’s “chopped-and-screwed” style when it came to hip-hop. That particular style is described as slowing down the pitch of the underlying track to create a real heavy, laid-back sound.

Fellow Houston rapper Bun-B, member of rap group UGK, honored his friend Big Pokey via Instagram on Sunday.

“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,” he wrote.

Powell can be seen collapsing on the stage in a video that’s circulating widely online. According to reports he was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead after unsuccessful attempts to revive him through CPR.

Big Pokey, rapper behind Ball N-Parlay, passes away
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