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      Bushwick Bill

      Bushwick Bill

      Highest Rated: Not Available

      Lowest Rated: Not Available

      Birthday: Dec 8, 1966

      Birthplace: Jamaica, West Indies

      Bushwick Bill was an American rapper and record producer best known as a member of the groundbreaking Texas hip-hop group the Geto Boys. Standing at only 3 feet 8 inches, but with incredible charisma and a dark eccentricity about him, Bushwick Bill, alongside his bandmates Willie D and Scarface, helped put Southern rap on the map, and pioneered the macabre Horrorcore genre. True to form, Bill's life was often one of horrors and hardships, most notably a PCP-addled suicide attempt which left him with only one eye, the aftermath captured on the legendary album cover of the Geto Boys fourth album, "We Can't Be Stopped" (Rap-a-Lot, 1991). When he died in 2019 of pancreatic cancer, Bill was remembered as a true original, and a venerable soldier in the weirdest corners of hip-hop culture. Born Richard Stephen Shaw on December 8, 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica, Bill was diagnosed with dwarfism at birth; as an adult he would reach a maximum height of 3 feet eight inches. The family lived in Brooklyn, NY, where Bill first became enamored with hip-hop culture and graffiti art, before settling in the Fifth Ward neighborhood of Houston, Texas in the late 1980s. In 1986, Bill joined the Geto Boys, who at the time consisted of The Sire Jukebox, DJ Ready Red, and Prince Johnny C. Under the name Little Billy, Bill was more like a hype man or a mascot than an actual MC, doing silly dances to hype up the crowd during live performances. That changed when the other members heard him rapping along to a Public Enemy song, and encouraged him to write his own rhymed for the group. The early days were rough: when the Geto Boys' debut album, "Making Trouble" (Rap-a-Lot, 1988), failed to sell, the group essentially split up. A few months later, Rap-a-Lot CEO James Prince decided to put together a new lineup of the group, pairing up Bill and DJ Ready Red with two of the best solo rappers in Houston: Willie D and Scarface. The move proved to be kismet, as both rappers shared Bill's morbid and macabre leanings, applying horror movie tropes and eerie minimalist production to tales of the everyday struggles they faced living in the Fifth Ward on their groundbreaking sophomore effort, "Grip It! On That Other Level" (Rap-a-Lot, 1989). The album helped pave the way for what would become a full on Southern hip-hop renaissance throughout the nineties and early 21st century, and essentially invented a subgenre in and of itself: Horrorcore. On the strength of "Grip It!," the group signed to Def American Recordings, and quickly released their third album, "The Geto Boys" (Def American/Rap-a-Lot, 1990). Lyrically, it was their darkest album yet, with vivid rhymes about gang violence, misogyny, rivers of blood, psychotic breakdowns, and even necrophilia. Due to this gnarly lyrical content, Def American's distributor, Geffen Records, refused to put the record in stores. When no impasse could be reached, the label ended its partnership with Geffen, and the album was instead distributed by Warner Bros. Records. Before long, all of the controversy and press coverage began to take a toll on the group, especially Bill, who began heavily abusing drugs and alcohol. On June 19, 1991, while under the influence of PCP and Everclear grain alcohol, Bill got into a violent fight with his girlfriend, and attempted suicide by shooting himself in the right eye. He survived, but his eye was permanently damaged and had to be removed. Instead of seeing the incident as a sign to slow down, the Geto Boys instead doubled down: the cover of their next album, "We Can't Be Stopped" (Rap-a-Lot, 1991), was a candid photo of Willie D and Scarface wheeling a bedridden, cellphone-wielding Bill down a hospital hallway, his fresh eye wound on full gruesome display. As expected, the controversy worked in their favor, and "We Can't Be Stopped" became the Geto Boys' first platinum-selling album. Bill was able to ride the wave of that success into a guest spot on Dr. Dre's seminal solo album "The Chronic" (Death Row, 1992), as well as his own debut solo album, "Little Big Man" (Rap-a-Lot, 1992), which managed to reach number 15 on the Billboard 200. Despite the commercial success, the group soon began to splinter. DJ Ready Red had already quit the group during the recording sessions for "We Can't Be Stopped," and soon after, Willie D also departed. He was replaced with Big Mike for the next album, ""Til Death Do Us Part" (Rap-a-Lot, 1993), which went gold, but was a critical disappointment. Bill released his second solo album, "Phantom of the Rapra" (Rap-a-Lot, 1995), in 1995 to sluggish sales. The Geto Boys decided to reunite with Willie D for their next effort, aptly titled "The Resurrection" (Rap-a-Lot, 1996), which was praised by both fans and critics upon its release as their finest album to date. However, despite the acclaim, this reunion would prove to be short-lived, as Bill departed the group the following year in order to focus on his solo career. 1998 would see the release of Bill's third solo album, "No Surrender No Retreat" (Noo Trybe, 1998), as well as what would, for many years, be the final Geto Boys album, "Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly" (Rap-a-Lot, 1998), as Willie D and Scarface soon split up to focus on their own solo careers. Bill put out his fourth solo album, "Universal Small Souljah" (Noo Trybe, 2001) three years later, but sales were sluggish, and reviews were even worse. Clearly, it was time for a change. In 2005, Bill reunited with Willie D and Scarface for one final Geto Boys album, "The Foundation" (Rap-a-Lot, 2005), as well as releasing a new solo album, "Gutta Mixx" (Lightyear Entertainment, 2005). The following year, Bill announced that he had become a born-again Christian, a transition which he documented on what would be his final solo album, "My Testimony of Redemption" (Much Luvv Recordz, 2009), a radical departure from the explicit violence and sex that usually dominated his lyrics. Despite this newfound inner peace, Bill's troubles were far from over. In May of 2010, he was arrested in Georgia for possession of marijuana and cocaine. This would be the beginning of a protracted legal battle, during which Bill was very nearly deported back to Jamaica due to his prior criminal record, a fate he miraculously avoided. On May 1, 2019, Bill announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and was undergoing treatment to prolong his life. Following this tragic news, The Geto Boys announced a farewell tour; what would've been their first performances together since 2009. However, Bill soon pulled out of the tour, feeling that his cancer diagnosis was being exploited, and the dates were cancelled. On June 10, 2019, following a false report of his passing less than 24 hours earlier, Bushwick Bill died in a hospital in Colorado. He was 52 years old.



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