Bushwick Bill — the rapper and co-founder of the legendary Houston, Texas, group Geto Boys — died on Sunday, two months after going public with his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He was 52.
The musician, whose birth name was Richard Stephen Shaw, died at 9:35 p.m. local time at a Colorado hospital, his publicist Dawn P. told the Associated Press. He was surrounded by his family when he died, she said.
Back in May, Bushwick Bill opened up to TMZ about his health battle, explaining that he’d been undergoing intensive chemotherapy to treat it but that his prognosis was unclear.
He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in February. The discovery came as a surprise, not just to fans but to Bushwick Bill himself. As he explained, doctors had been looking into a mass on his pancreas but told him it was benign.
“, ‘We see a mass on your pancreas and we can’t understand because it’s not alcohol, it’s not sugar, it’s not diabetes — they went through all kind of stuff,” Bushwick Bill recalled to TMZ. “Finally, by February they said it was stage four pancreatic cancer. And I’m like, ‘Stage 4? I’ve been getting tested and they said it was just a mass but it was benign. And I’m like, ‘Does benign mean it could be cancer?’ And they were like, ‘It’s just a mass with no purpose.’ So it was crazy to find out that pancreatic cancer is undetected until it’s in the fourth or fifth state.”
Bushwick Bill went on to explain that he had been staying quiet about his diagnosis — not even telling fellow Geto Boys founders Scarface and Willie D — but decided to open up about it because “keeping it to myself is not really helping anybody.”
A post shared by Bushwick Bill (@therealbushwickbill) on May 25, 2019 at 7:22am PDT
Since that interview, Bushwick Bill had been sharing updates on Instagram about his health from the hospital, where he was admitted on May 24.
Chemotherapy had left him with walking pneumonia, an infection in his lung and a possible infection in his blood, he told his fans in one update.
He was hoping to get back on stage before his death, even planning a “F— Cancer Tour” to launch on June 8 in Dallas.
Prior to dying, Bushwick Bill said he didn’t fear death — noting how, on June 19, 1991, he was shot in the head and survived it (an experience he rapped about in the song, “Ever So Clear”).
“It’s not like I’m afraid of dying,” he told TMZ. “I know what it’s like on the other side.”
“That’s not what it’s really about. It’s about life and loving life,” he said. “I just want people to be aware so that when they set dreams or goals, they’re healthy enough to fulfill and live.”