Screwston, Texas

Big Moe Finally Gets His Own Day

Big Moe Finally Gets His Own Day
ESG, who met Big Moe at DJ Screw's house around 1993, remembers the rapper as a slowed-down version of a regular person. He might have been the life of the party, but he was never in a rush to get there. "He was just so nonchalant," ESG remembers. "No matter where he went, he wasn't going to run around the stage, he was going to find one spot and rock the show."

ESG worked with his S.U.C. comrade on numerous tracks, and their friendship went deeper than just making mixtapes."I never called him Big Moe; I always called him Kenneth," he says.

Kenneth Moore, who helped define Houston as Syrup City, was a star. He died at the age of 33. This year, for what would have been his forty-third birthday, Houston is marking August 20 as his official day.

Probably one of the first organized public celebrations for the Houston legend, the block part will be part of a day of celebrations on Sunday.

"Screw was the king. But when Big Moe came, it was just something none of us did as far as his singing background," ESG remembers.

A son of the Third Ward, Moe grew up singing in the church and went to Yates High School. While his crooning set him apart, it was his drank habit that most people remember, and something record labels played up.

"His neighborhood was the feeding ground for that culture. He was deeply rooted in that culture," E.S.G explains. "He got attached to that mantra and that name, but I don't look at it as nothing bad. Unfortunately he passed away, but he didn't pass away from that."

Like Snoop Dogg is known for the smoke, Big Moe is known for the sippin'.

Big Moe though was a critically acclaimed star. In 2002, five years before the rapper died, Jon Caramanica wrote about Purple World in Spin magazine:

On Moe's outstanding second album, even his musical memory is screwed. He's gangsta, but the peppy production recalls Grover Washington Jr's saccharine soul; the mix is optimistic, slick and pleasingly disorienting.

Big Moe was the Barre Baby. "That's nothing to brag about, but that's just how it was. When he sang about 'I done hit the pint to the head like maan,' he really did do those things, and the people around him did too," says ESG. "That's why he got the name Barre Baby, that's why he did the skit on the album where he had with his mom, she was drankin' the drank. That's just what they did."

If someone gets offended by this then they don't know the history or the culture of Big Moe. When Big Moe hit the market, he was really sipping, he was really a Barre Baby. It was a way of life.

Styrofoam cups, the quintessential symbol for lean-sipping culture, will be available during Big Moe Day, according to the event's host and promoter, Amy Mueller. Mueller, a KTRU radio DJ better known on the airwaves as DJ Havin Things, and a party promoter around town, calls Moe the "most soulful Houston rapper that was ever to live."

Mueller is working within a partnership of Houston rap labels including Wreckshop, the label that put out Moe's music, to put on the Big Moe Day Block Party. She's directly affiliated with Screwston and Dope House Records, which is showcasing the event in their warehouse space.

Also giving the big co-sign is the Estate of Big Moe, including his mother, Momma Moe.

Several S.U.C. legends (R.I.P. Macc Grace) will perform at the Big Moe Day Block Party, 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday at 2122 Center. For more information, see Big Moe Day on Facebook. Free.
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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.