Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer

The hip-hop pioneer says that he held back from telling the world because he needed time to process, but he is still moving forward with plans for more music

Bushwick Bill
(L-R) Scarface, Bushwick Bill and Willie D of the Geto Boys perform on stage at the Growlers 6 festival at the LA Waterfront on October 29, 2017 in San Pedro, California. (Photo by Matt Cowan/Getty Images)

Bushwick Bill, one-third of the Houston-based groundbreaking rap trio Geto Boys said in an interview that he has been fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer since being diagnosed months ago.

During an interview with TMZ the 52-year-old, whose real name is Richard Stephen Shaw, shared that his doctors were keeping an eye on a mass on his pancreas and ultimately determined in February that it was cancerous.

“I’ve been keeping it to myself, but I’m getting ready to tell (fellow members Geto Boys members) Scarface and Willie D, and I’ve only told close family members and that’s about it,” Bushwick said. “I figured keeping it to myself is not really helping nobody. And it’s not like I’m afraid of dying because if anyone knows anything about me from Ever So Clear, I died and came back already on June 19, 1991, so I know what it’s like on the other side, so that’s really not what it’s about. It’s about life and loving life and being there for family.”

The rapper was referring to an incident in which he was shot in his right eye during a fight with a girlfriend. A graphic photo of him and his bandmates after the shooting appears on the cover for the 1991 album “We Can’t Be Stopped.” He has since said he was also drunk and high on PCP. He rapped about what happened on his solo release “Ever So Clear.”

After taking a few months to process the news with loved ones he decided it was time to let the rest of the world know about his prognosis.

Bushwick says he’s currently focused on fortifying his legacy and making sure his children are taken care of after his death. As a result he is working on three new albums.

“I notice when most celebrities pass, they really don’t have nothing set up for their children and everything is in disarray… I’d rather know for sure that I did my part,” he said.

Since the TMZ interview, however, Willie D said that he did know about Bushwick’s condition but remained silent out of respect for his privacy.

“As many of you learned today, our bandmate, fellow Geto Boy Bushwick Bill has Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. Scarface and I was made aware of Bill’s condition months ago, but wanted to respect his privacy and allow him to speak on it in his time, which he did today,” he said in a post to Instagram.  “I will share with you what I can shortly on my YouTube channel at 1:30 PM Central Time.”

According to a February report from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the incidence and death rates for African Americans remains higher than any other group. In fact, the incidence rate alone is 67 percent higher. Blacks are encouraged to get checked often because lifestyle choices, socioeconomic factors and care disparities rather figure into the higher incidences more than genetics.

The Jamaican born Bushwick Bill, who stands 3-foot-8, Willie D and Scarface came together in the late 80s after an earlier incarnation of the group which included Bill, to form the current Geto Boys lineup. The group first debuted with 1989’s Grip It! On That Other Level.

Their 1990 follow up, simply titled The Geto Boys found the group in the middle of controversy over the strong, profane lyrics, which have been criticized for violent and misogynistic content, and were the center of political and First Amendment debates over the then-emerging gangsta rap genre. But it also featured the hip-hop classic “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me.”

Their follow ups, including We Can’t Be Stopped and 1993’s Til Death Do Us Part were both commercial and critical successes, with the later becoming certified gold. Bushwick Bill himself has released six solo studio albums. His last one My Testimony of Redemption, recorded after he became a born again Christian, was released in 2009.