Rapper Bushwick Bill, member of the rap group Geto Boys, has died at 52 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Bushwick Bill, born Richard Shaw, had revealed recently that he had been diagnosed with the disease, with doctors informing him it was stage 4 according to Rolling Stone. After some speculation and miscommunication during the day on Sunday about his death, representatives confirmed the rapper officially passed on Sunday evening.
“Bushwick Bill passed away peacefully this evening at 9:35 p.m. He was surrounded by his immediate family,” his publicist Dawn P. told Rolling Stone. “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.”
Shaw revealed his condition in an interview with TMZ, noting that doctors had found a mass on his pancreas earlier in the year.
"We can't understand it. It's not alcohol, it's not sugar, it's not diabetes. They went through all kids of stuff. And finally by February 8th, they said it was stage 4 cancer," the rapper told the outlet.
As he pointed out in the interview, this was not his first brush with death. As he told TMZ, keeping the news private didn't help anybody and his prior incident that involved him accidentally shooting himself in the eye gave him a clearer understanding of dying.
"I’m not really afraid of dying because if anyone knows anything about me from [his 1992 song] "Ever So Clear," I died and came back already in June 1991, so I know what it’s like on the other side,” Rolling Stone added.
Bushwick Bill was originally from Jamaica and born with dwarfism. His size led to him first performing under the name Little Billy, but he changed his name after joining the Geto Boys in 1986 as the group's dancer according to Rolling Stone.
Bushwick Bill became of the notable members of the group alongside Scarface and Willie D. The trio were an influence on southern rap music and managed a long career with over eight albums spanning 1988 until 2005 and their reunion album The Foundation.
The rapper also released several albums as a solo artist, even planning on beginning a solo tour following his diagnosis titled the "Phuck Cancer" tour.
Initial reports on Sunday morning seemed to stem from fellow Geto Boys member Scarface seeming to announce the rapper had died. Several other rappers shared condolences online, while fans mourned the loss until Shaw's son corrected reports.
“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," Shaw's son wrote on Instagram. "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.”