Last month, the city of Houston officially feted Big Moe with it’s most rarest of feats for a rapper: it gave him his own official day. For context purposes, he is the eighth Houston rapper to receive such an honor, joining Screwed Up Click brothers Lil Keke and Z-Ro; Trae Tha Truth; Paul Wall; Slim Thug; Bun B and Sun. It’s a crowning achievement that comes 17 years after his debut album (City of Syrup), 15 years after his most celebrated commercial release (Purple World) and a decade removed from his tragic death following a heart attack.
Kenneth Moore did not own the name Big Moe as a misnomer; he was christened with the perfect rap name to suit him. He was a man-child placed in the body of someone who could have passed for an NFL offensive lineman. If the Screwed Up Click was a galaxy of rappers from various Southside blocks that ranging from gangly-voiced and affable (Yungstar) to rapping-like-he-had-an-important-story-to-tell-you-before-people-walked-back-inside (early Z-Ro) to possessing a silky, perfect rap baritone (Fat Pat), Big Moe was the outlier. He rapped with a noticeable baritone but also sung with velvety smoothness. Houston’s longstanding belief that anything could be made into a song or remixed purposefully to fit current nomenclature was birthed within the voice of Big Moe.
Recently, Wreckshop Nation commissioned a documentary about the life of Moe. It is called Big Moe 4 Ever, a 24-minute arc that somehow attempts to pack 33 years of life into it. Here are the 22 best quotes from beginning to end.
22. “He was potty training at 18 months”
Because of course your grandmother knows of your ridiculous feats. While most kids are pointing out fruit snacks and growing up to be tiny kneecapping terrors, Moe apparently wanted to keep his pampers clean. Now I can only imagine Big Moe talking baby gibberish but championing Huggies the same way he did FUBU over Hilfiger.
21. “I’ma show you why they call me Disco Dan!”
Moe, a dancing machine.
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20. “Bitch you trippin’, yo’ son can sang and you been ‘round here stuck on stupid.”
Big Moe’s mother is one of the main people keeping his legacy alive and serves as the executive producer of Big Moe 4 Ever. A gem and a half, it took her son singing the a capella version of Jodeci covering Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” to convince her that he was destined for something. Which only serves to remind us that a Jodeci biopic need be made, preferably by VH1 or BET.
19. “Ain’t no lazy point to our life, we gotta get out and make it happen.”
There’s a noticeable tic in Moe’s speaking voice whenever he gets excited in the documentary. His mind immediately goes to fast-forward to get everything out and he blurts out everything, including sage advice at a mile a minute. No wonder he was mostly brought down to a slow pitch.
18. “Moe had a natural voice. He could give it to you at any pitch. Some people won’t acknowledge or say it but they got the singing-rap game from him.”
The chronology for singing rappers goes as follows: Moe; Z-Ro; Ja Rule; Phonte; Drake. Nate Dogg doesn’t belong on this list because he was primarily a singer and never actually rapped. Ja Rule did sing but only for corny, thug-love pop hits. Phonte mastered this feat and then became an honest to God singer with The Foreign Exchange and his 50-11 other side gigs and hustles. Drake is the current standard, but most of this style points back to the big man who stayed off Tampa in Yellowstone.
17. “He said, ‘I’ma be a ghetto superstar.’ He was not only my son, he was my best friend.”
This is correct. Being the biggest rapper or entertainer in the world holds certain distinctions, none of them carry the same amount of respect and reverence as being a neighborhood God. See any Houston rapper from either the Screwed Up Click or Swishahouse during their respective peaks.
16. “Ideal, they stayed cater-corner from our house, Beyonce stayed two streets over...”
Big Moe 4 Ever reminds us that Third Ward, Houston, Texas is a beautiful, magical place where Big Pokey, Big Moe, Ideal and Beyonce can all stay within walking distance of one another. It’s also a reminder that we never did get the Big Moe / Beyonce collaboration the world truly deserved.
15. “In high school, going through the hallways he was always singing. His favorite song was, ‘Whoever Name Smell Like Booty’”
In the high-school ecosystem, funny big dudes were always high on the totem pole of popularity. Come up with a remix to Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” or Carlos Santana’s “Maria Maria” and you earned currency for at least a few weeks. Now imagine Moe’s overly talented ass doing this at Jack Yates. For four years.
14. “One day Screw pulled up on Tampa and he picked Moe up. Next thing you know a week later, we jammin’ the tape playing NBA Live.”
From 1995 until 2007, NBA Live was one of EA Sports’ most cherished properties. Hours and days of childhoods across the globe have been lost to Live 95 and Live 96, respectively. I had Live 97 with Mitch Richmond on the cover for PC; that’s how dedicated I was. Also, Player 99 for the Chicago Bulls was a cheat code that made everyone wonder why the Bulls never signed Player 99 in real life.
13. “You didn’t have a tape unless you had Big Moe.”
Mike is referring to Screw tapes, those grey tapes that doubled as the key to a codeine-driven version of Oz. To properly deconstruct the hierarchy of the Screwed Up Click, one must merely work from top to bottom. The Click’s best two rappers were Fat Pat and Lil Keke; its last wunderkind was Lil Flip. Within that period others had their star-making turns, including Yungstar on “June 27th.” Moe is credited as the most featured guest on Screw tapes, the most constant of presence solely because you cannot replicate what he does or did.
12. “It was kinda like a marriage when we got together.”
In 2008, Lil Wayne and T-Pain were either near or at their respective peaks. Pain found a way to rhyme 'Wisconsin' with 'mansion'; Wayne's mouth said whatever his mind decided he should burst out with. They wore T-shirts to commemorate the idea of being a rapper-singer and a singer-rapper, finally culminating in an album once thought lost into the ether, T-Wayne. 'Ro and Moe are their Houston counterpart, and “Too Many Niggas” is the epitome of such a partnership. I don’t believe Moe and 'Ro would wear T-shirts that tell you who did what but you’d probably end up with an album of country rap tunes had it ever come to pass. The closest you may get? The way Z-Ro damn near dominates City of Syrup by himself.
11. “I’m not thinking of typical singers like Barry White when I think of Moe. Moe could say, 'I’ma eat me some Whataburger, mayne.'”
Big Moe could have done the Whataburger jingle from here to eternity. At least Le$ is keeping the bond alive between Houston rap and the state’s favorite burger chain.
10. “Moe is the king of drinkin’. Him and Screw.”
Somehow, Moe’s love for Barre cough syrup has become his signature. Even if it contributed to his death, every family member in the documentary wears a purple T-shirt or a white one with his face or name highlighted in purple. A legacy indeed but perhaps the one that may (sadly) outlive Moe’s musical gifts.
9. “If you ain’t pleasin’ your city, you ain’t pleasin’ nobody.”
There’s a prideful essence about being from Houston that only can be replicated if you’re from a town that a) gets its own sh*t done; b) has a culture and essence that can be syphoned off and duplicated elsewhere; as well as c) contain as many natural resources from all walks of life. You don’t become a superstar without owning the title of “neighborhood superstar” first.
8. “You hardly got those times where you bond with people that you didn’t grow up with. And when you get those times, they’re very special.”
The Wreckshop section of the documentary may be the saddest, mainly because several guys — Noke, Tyte Eyez, D-Rock — speak of Moe as if they have to eulogize him all over again. Eulogies, while powerful and emotion-inducing, really suck.
7. “City of Syrup, he did that album in three and a half weeks, man. Honestly.”
Having revisited City of Syrup randomly over the weekend, it’s absurd that this ounce of twisted Southern perfection took less than a month to be created. It sounds as if the world got dipped in ‘80s synths and glossy Gap Band/Zapp R&B and then was made to wed gliding and effortless Houston rap. It’s also ironic that the same album that starts with Mama Moe talking ends with a Houston-style flip of “Feenin’” by Jodeci, the same group that convinced her of her son’s talent.
6. “He just wanna see you win. If he believed in you, he didn’t have to think about it twice.”
This, is the most thoughtful quote of all and insight to how often Moe collaborated with artists and shouted them out. Crab in a barrel didn’t apply to the M-O-E.
5. “If you look at the influence that Moe has had on hip-hop from our era towards what’s going on right now? Moe is an icon.”
This is the last word from anyone who personally knew Moe in the documentary, and the most telling. Dirty Dolla has alternating definitions for legend and icon. To be an icon to Dirty Dolla, you have to be discussed forever. Kenneth Moore will be discussed forever, right down to conceptualizing what has to occur for a big dude to take about an hour in the shower.
4. “He said I’ma have the whole wide world sippin’ drank and that’s what he did.”
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3. “The first real moment we had when Big Moe got a deal and I remember seeing his video on TV. That same guy they said would local is now nationwide.”
The irony of the Screwed Up Click rests in that one quote. Fat Pat was the group’s best rapper. Lil Flip was its most effortless rapper. But it was Moe who broke first nationwide.
2. “Big Moe was like the first Drake to me.”
Drake’s most impressive Texas flip involves him repurposing Big Moe’s work on “June 27th.” Case closed.
1. “Who else made it cool to sing on a Screw tape?”
The documentary ends with Doughbeezy highlighting a rather rare Big Moe trading card and scented candle but DeLorean offers the final word on it all — that, simply put, Big Moe may have been the coolest member of the Screwed Up Click. Personable, approachable, and he made his own style on top of what he grew up on. A legend, forever.