Legendary Geto Boys member Bushwick Bill has died after a longtime battle with pancreatic cancer, TMZ reports. Last month, Bill released a video describing the chemotherapy treatment he’d been receiving for his Stage 4 cancer. His death was confirmed by Geto Boys groupmate Scarface this morning, who took to Instagram to pay tribute to the rapper. “RIP Bushwick Bill,” he wrote in his Instagram caption. He was 52.
Bushwick Bill was born on December 8, 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica. The rapper (born Richard Stephen Shaw) moved to Brooklyn, New York in his youth before ultimately settling in Houston, where he joined Geto Boys as a dancer in the late 1980s.
Shaw suffered from dwarfism throughout his life, which informed to his early Geto Boys stage name “Little Billy.” At 3 feet 8 inches tall, he became one of the group’s most memorable contributors, and his image graced the cover of Geto Boys’ 1991 album We Can’t Be Stopped, which depicts groupmates Scarface and Willie D rushing Shaw to the hospital after shooting his own eye out in the summer of 1991. Shaw released six studio albums as a solo artist including 1992’s Little Big Man, 1995’s Phantom of the Rapra, and most recently the 2010 album My Testimony of Redemption.
Last month, Geto Boys announced a farewell tour following Shaw’s cancer diagnosis, which was later cancelled due to his health. According to reports from TMZ, he was also upset by the title of the tour, which implied he was on his deathbed.
Update (12:30pm): Bushwick Bill apparently hasn’t died after all. TMZ has updated their report to note that the musician is “still alive and fighting cancer” according to his publicist. The publicist confirmed his status with hospital staff, who say that the musician is still in their care, with numerous family members by bedside.
Update (1:45pm): In a new post on Instagram, Bushwick Bill’s son confirmed that the Geto Boys musician is still alive. “My dad IS NOT dead, he’s still alive and fighting for his life,” he writes in the post‘s caption. “He needs your continued prayers and support. Certain people have been so quick to write him off as dead so they can capitalize off it, and it’s messed up because y’all really think these people care about him. There is no Geto Boys without Bushwick Bill.”
Update (11:47pm): According to a statement from Bushwick Bill’s publicist, “Bushwick Bill passed away peacefully this evening at 9:35 p.m. He was surrounded by his immediate family. There were incorrect previous reports that he had passed away this morning. We are looking into doing a public memorial at a later date. His family appreciates all of the prayers and support and are asking for privacy at this time.”
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Contrary to what has been prematurely, insensitively, and inaccurately posted/reported – My dad IS NOT dead, he’s still alive and fighting for his life. He needs your continued prayers and support. Certain people have been so quick to write him off as dead so they can capitalize off it, and it’s messed up because yall really think these people care about him. There is no Geto Boys without Bushwick Bill. Please repost to help combat the fake news. Thank you @tmz_tv & @realdawn_p for the updated report. On behalf of the family we’re requesting privacy until further notice. #news #bushwickbill #chuckwick #getoboys #tmz