Kenneth Doniell Moore, better known as Big Moe, had a large character and a hypnotizing rap cadence. Born on August 20 in 1974, the “Ball N’ Parlay” vocalist would’ve been 47 today.
Moe, raised in Southeast Houston and graduate from Jack Yates High School, is widely known for being a member of the Houston rap collective, the Screwed Up Click (S.U.C). Like many of his S.U.C counterparts, his rap career began when he was featured on mixtapes from Houston legend, DJ Screw. Moe’s interpretation of screw music was described as "celebratory psychedelia," by Eyder Peralta at the Houston Chronicle. The music video for his whimsical ballad "Purple Stuff" is a Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory-themed visual and the chorus on “Barre Baby,” a single off his first album, City Of Syrup, is a fan favorite.
Many can attest to the fallen rapper’s keen skill. Moe was known for his deep inflection and harmonies on records, a style he called "rapsinging." In the late 1990s, Big Moe signed to Wreckshop Records. The label released his debut album, City of Syrup in 2000一the title of which was inspired by Houston's revolutionary rap scene and its reputation for drinking codeine-laced syrup, more commonly known as lean, which Moe pours from a Styrofoam cup on the album's cover.
City of Syrup had guest appearances from the legendary rap collective, featuring DJ Screw, Big Hawk, Big Pokey, Lil’ Keke, ESG, Al-D, and Lil’ O. The album also featured the single, "Mann!," which Moe intended to be The South Side of Houston’s answer to Black Rob's East Coast hit "Whoa!" (2000).
Moe’s discography is a time capsule for Houston’s Screwed Up era, as many fell victim to codeine abuse. His sophomore project, Purple Stuff, professed his love for lean. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in 2002. Wreckshop Records released Moe’s third album, Moe Life, in 2003. It included his last commercially successful single, “Just a Dog,” and a melancholic farewell, “Leave Drank Alone.”
It was only a few months post the release of City of Syrup that DJ Screw died from an overdose. Big Moe passed away in 2007 from a heart attack. The artist was only 33-years-old.
Although Moe’s death is closely connected to his love for lean, many of his comrades make a point to share that wasn’t his entire life. Lil’ O told Houston Chronicle, “While Moe did sing about syrup, he also sang about a wide array of things. Outside of hip-hop, he was a happy man….He was very approachable. The fans knew they could always come up and ask for a picture, and he signed every autograph.”
In honor of Moe's legacy, Mayor Sylvester Turner named August 20 as Big Moe Day in Houston in 2017. Today, we remember and celebrate his life.
Big Moe would’ve turned 47 today— XXL Magazine (@XXL) August 20, 2021
RIP 🕊 pic.twitter.com/8ZYYyNhF1D