Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Big Po’s come up is one that can speak volumes about one man’s trials and the faith that helped him make it through. Po, a West Monroe, Louisiana Native, tells folks that God is who put him on the path he’s on today. His says he couldn’t do it without God, hard work and his Pofolks. Around 1996, Keith “Big Po” Powell and John Brodnax ran in similar circles during high school. Big Po seen John rapping about at a party and decided he wanted to give it a try. The two started rapping together. They got some local attention, and by 2001, they found themselves in Nashville making their first studio album Wood Ready.
It was hard at the time to push country rap. Big Po and Brodnax were ahead of their time and they struggled a lot to get the momentum they needed. Between the struggle and trying to live the rap life, it led to a road of addiction. Lean, pills and liquor soon took hold. In 2008, Big Po, under the influence, wrecked his truck. The damage from the wreck left him unable to walk for 3 years. It took a lot of hard work to be able to get on his feet again. The new injury didn’t help his addiction, though. It only enabled it. Then, in 2014, his spirit had grew tired and weary. He knew he could no longer continue down the path he was on. He found himself in a church, praying to God for help. His story reminds you of the type of rest that can be found in Matthew 11:28. With the good Lord’s help, he got clean and realized his music was a way to spread his testimony. His song “God’s Country”, featuring Mr. Brodnax, makes it clear, Big Po stands on what he believes in and is grateful for the blessings he’s had bestowed on him. He said the song was inspired by a church camping trip. During the trip, he and his daughter climbed a large peak together. The climb was rough on them. He kept pushing her on and they made it to the top. Looking out over the land, he told her that it was God’s country.
Even with his new album, Pocephus, he shares his testimony in a few songs. The song “On the Edge” is his depiction of what life was like rapping with an addiction. At the end he gives a call to action for those who are stuck in the same path by saying, “You know what’s making you act like that, what’s holding you down. Man, sometimes we gotta shake what holds us back. We gotta shine out here, man. All the ugliness, it don’t let us shine.”
In another song on the album, “Get High”, Po talks about turning his problems and stresses over to God. You could tell when he talked that he favored the track. He told me that “Get High” didn’t technically mean to physically get high. It’s meant to say raise yourself up and spend time talking to the man above. In the lyrics, you can hear him say, “the further I go, the shit gets harder. Sparking the loud while I speak to my father.” Later in the song, he sings, “Guess I’m gonna get high, get high. Yeah, I’m high, I’m high. ‘Cause it’s the only thing that ever makes the rain stop.” Po’s words are meant to inspire those to raise your voice in prayer and God will calm the storms. I asked Big Po about the title of his album, Pocephus, and how it came to be. He told me that he liked to have a theme for his albums. It stemmed from a childhood memory. When he was young, his mother would take him to preschool before her shift at a factory. He had a Hank Williams, Jr. tape and would play it over and over during the ride. He realized later that Hank, Jr. didn’t do things the way the music establishment wanted him to and he surely didn’t make the same music as his daddy. Just like Hank said in a feature with Waylon Jennings, “Are you sure Hank done it this way? I don’t think Hank done it this way.” In his own way, he was like Bocephus From the beginning, his musical style was reaching outside of the norm. His song Pocephus is his spin on Hank’s “My Name is Bocephus”. In the song, Big Po talks about exactly who he is and where he come from. The lyrics that ties it all together says “They can tell me who they think I should be, but then, I wouldn’t be me. Then, I couldn’t be Big Po.”
2020 was all about good music and equally good music videos for Big Po. Out of 15 tracks on the Pocephus album, 10 have videos. All of which tell a visual story to further enhance the song for the listener. The video for Pocephus shows a slew of Big Po supporters showing love. He has an infinite love for his supporters, the Pofolk. He told me that the common phrase “po’ folk” doesn’t necessarily mean someone who is poor. It means someone who is rich in spirit. His Pofolk are the true definition of that, working class men and women who are rich in spirit. It looks like Pofolks are in luck for 2021 as well. When asked what 2021 held for Big Po, he said he has another project expected to drop in Spring of 2021. He also has several collabs and features in the works. “You’ll see a lot more of Big Po, if that’s possible. We’re going to go harder.” While you’re waiting for the next project to drop in the spring, check out Pocephus on all streaming platforms and tell us what you think of the awesome videos.
- Ashley Davis