By Mark A. Upaa
Bushwick Bill, a member of the veteran Houston rap trio Geto Boys, has died at the age of 52. The Jamaica-born rapper, born with dwarfism first performed under the moniker Little Billy. He joined the Geto Boys in 1986, where he initially performed as a dancer in the group.
The rapper, who’se real name is Richard Shaw, revealed last month that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer sometime in February. Reports that the rapper had died began circulating early Sunday after fellow Geto Boy Scarface wrote in a pair of Instagram posts “RIP Bushwick Bill “You will be missed big fella.”
When revealing his illness earlier this year, Bill said, “I figure keeping it to myself is not really helping nobody, and I’m not really afraid of dying because if anyone knows anything about me,’ I died and came back already in June 1991, so I know what it’s like on the other side,” the rapper added, referring to an incident where he accidentally shot himself in the eye while tussling with his girlfriend over a gun.
The group released a pair of independent albums but their self-titled major label debut, released on Rick Rubin’s Def American Records, caused an uproar due to their ultra-violent lyrics that led the label to change its distribution from Geffen Records to Warner Bros. The group moved on to Priority Records and released its biggest album in 1991, “We Can’t Be Stopped” — the cover of which featured a photo of the group’s Willie D and Scarface alongside Bill, on a hospital gurney, after the shooting incident. The album featured the group’s best-known song, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.” They remain a widely acknowledged influence on both Southern rap culture and particularly the horrorcore genre of rap music.