Richard Stephen Shaw (December 8, 1966 – June 9, 2019) was a Jamaican-American rapper and record producer better known by his stage name Bushwick Bill. He was best known as a member of the pioneering Texas hip hop group Geto Boys, a group he originally joined as a dancer in 1986 as Little Billy. He went on to become one third of the best-known incarnation of the group, alongside Willie D and Scarface.
Bushwick Bill performing in 2005
|Birth name||Richard Stephen Shaw|
|Also known as|
|Born||December 8, 1966|
|Died||June 9, 2019 (aged 52)|
|Genres||Hip hop, Southern hip hop|
|Height||3 ft 8 in (1.12 m)|
Bushwick Bill was born Richard Stephen Shaw on December 8, 1966, in Kingston, Jamaica. His father was a merchant marine, and his mother was a maid. Shaw was born with dwarfism and was listed as 3 feet 8 inches (112 cm) tall.
Shaw got his start in the music industry in 1986 as a member of the Geto Boys, where he performed as a dancer known as Little Billy. He later transitioned to rapping, and was featured on the Geto Boys' debut album, Making Trouble in 1988. The album received little attention and negative reviews, which led to Rap-A-Lot dropping all members from the group except for Bill and DJ Ready Red. Soon after, Rap-A-Lot CEO J. Prince recruited Scarface and Willie Dee, two local aspiring artists out of Texas as the second incarnation of the group. The new lineup began recording together in 1988 and their debut project as a group and second overall for the Geto Boys, Grip It! On That Other Level was released in 1989 to much better reception, being considered a classic album and one of the earliest entries into the Horrorcore genre. It was around this time the group's lyrical content began to generate controversy, which was multiplied in 1991 when the cover of the group's third album We Can't Be Stopped depicted a graphic image of Bill moments after he shot himself during an argument with his girlfriend. Nevertheless, the album went on to be their most successful to that point, being certified platinum in 1992.
Bushwick Bill can be heard on the album The Chronic by Dr. Dre; he appears in the video of "Dre Day" as one of Eazy-E's fellow rappers. His 1998 album No Surrender…No Retreat was dedicated to his friend Gil Epstein, a Fort Bend County prosecutor who was shot dead in Houston, Texas, in 1996.
On June 19, 1991, Shaw shot himself in the eye during an argument with his girlfriend, losing his right eye in the process while under the influence of Everclear grain alcohol and PCP. The aftermath of the incident was documented on the album cover for Geto Boys' 1991 album We Can't Be Stopped, which shows Shaw being pushed through the hospital on a gurney by bandmates Willie D and Scarface. Shaw claims he "died and came back to life" during the incident, and has made reference to it in his music. In 2006, he became a born-again Christian. On May 2010, Shaw was arrested in Georgia for possession of marijuana and cocaine. Based on his prior arrest record, he was facing deportation.
On May 1, 2019, Shaw revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. On June 9, 2019, reports emerged that Shaw had died, but news of his death was later refuted by his son. However, it was subsequently reported and confirmed that Shaw died later that day at a hospital in Colorado.
|Little Big Man|
|Phantom of the Rapra|
|No Surrender…No Retreat|
|Universal Small Souljah
|My Testimony of Redemption|
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- Quinn, Dave (June 10, 2019). "Bushwick Bill of Rap Group Geto Boys Dies at 52 After Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis". People.com. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Blais-Billie, Braudie; Minsker, Evan (June 9, 2019). "Update: Bushwick Bill's Son Says the Geto Boys Rapper Is "Fighting For His Life" Despite Reports of His Death". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- Peters, Mitchell, Bushwick Bill, Founding Member of the Geto Boys, Hospitalized: Update Billboard Magazine, June 9 2019
- Aswad, Jem (June 9, 2019). "Geto Boys Rapper Bushwick Bill Dies at 52". Variety. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
- Setaro, Shawn. "Bushwick Bill Couldn't Be Stopped". Complex. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
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- Adelson, Betty M. The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity Toward Social Liberation. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 307. ISBN 0-8135-3548-4. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
- Serrano, Shea. "The H-Town Countdown, No. 16: Bushwick Bill's Little Big Man". Houston Press. Retrieved June 11, 2019.