Bushwick Bill

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Bushwick Bill
Bushwick Bill performing in 2005
Bushwick Bill performing in 2005
Background information
Birth nameRichard William Stephen Shaw
Also known as
  • Bushwick Bill
  • Little Billy
  • Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin The Barbarian Mother-Funky Stay High Dollar Billster[1]
Born(1966-12-08)December 8, 1966
Kingston, Jamaica[2]
DiedJune 9, 2019(2019-06-09) (aged 52)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Years active1986–2019
Height3 ft 8 in (1.12 m)

Richard William Stephen Shaw (December 8, 1966 – June 9, 2019), better known by his stage name Bushwick Bill, was a Jamaican-American rapper.[3][4] He was a member of the Texas hip hop group Geto Boys, a group he originally joined as a breakdancer in 1986 as Little Billy.[5] He went on to become one third of one incarnation of the group, alongside Willie D and Scarface.

Early life[edit]

Bushwick Bill was born Richard William Stephen Shaw on December 8, 1966, in Kingston, Jamaica. His father was a merchant mariner, and his mother was a maid. Shaw was born with dwarfism and as an adult was listed as 3 feet 8 inches (112 cm) tall.[6]


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.[7] 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.[8][9] 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.[10] Nevertheless, the album went on to be their most successful to that point, being certified platinum in 1992.[11]

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.[12]

Personal life[edit]

On June 19, 1991, Shaw shot himself in the face following an argument with his former girlfriend, losing his right eye in the process; he had been under the influence of Everclear grain alcohol and PCP.[13] 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 claimed he "died and came back to life" during the incident, and he made reference to it in his music.[14][15][16] In 2006, he became a born-again Christian.[2] In May 2010, Shaw was arrested in Georgia for possession of marijuana and cocaine. Based on his prior arrest record, he was facing deportation.[2]

Illness and death[edit]

On May 1, 2019, Shaw revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.[17] On June 9, 2019, reports emerged that Shaw had died, but news of his death was later refuted by his son.[18][19] However, it was subsequently reported and confirmed that Shaw died later that day at a hospital in Denver, Colorado.[6][20]


Album information
Little Big Man[21]
  • Released: September 8, 1992
  • Billboard 200 chart position: No. 15[22]
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: No. 32
  • Singles: "Ever So Clear"/"Call Me Crazy" (No. 49 R&B)
Phantom of the Rapra[23]
  • Released: July 11, 1995
  • Billboard 200 chart position: No. 43[22]
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: No. 3
  • Singles: "Who's the Biggest"/"Only God Knows" (No. 113 Pop, No. 88 R&B)
No Surrender…No Retreat[23]
  • Released: October 27, 1998
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: No. 43
  • Singles:
Universal Small Souljah[23]
  • Released: March 13, 2001
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: "Unforgiven"
Gutta Mixx[24]
  • Released: March 29, 2005
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: "20Minutesormore"
My Testimony of Redemption[21]
  • Released: November 17, 2009
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #66


  1. ^ "Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin The Barbarian Mother-Funky Stay High Dollar Billster". Howtogrowarapper.wordpress.com. April 30, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Radford, Chad (August 30, 2010). "Bushwick Bill teeters on the brink of deportation | Music Feature | Creative Loafing Atlanta". Clatl.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  3. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (2002). "Geto Boys". The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Canongate. p. 599. ISBN 1-84195-615-5.
  4. ^ Hip Online (January 6, 2008). "Bushwick Bill". Hip Online. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  5. ^ Moskow 0, Ben (November 10, 2021). "Bushwick Bill Was One of Houston's Most Provocative Rappers. A New Documentary Reveals the Man Behind the Outrage". Texas Monthly. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (June 10, 2019). "Bushwick Bill, Rapper Who Told Harrowing Tales in Geto Boys, Is Dead at 52". The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  7. ^ "Making Trouble – Geto Boys | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  8. ^ Columnist. The 100 Best Rap Albums. The Source. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  9. ^ Bruce, Joseph; Echlin, Hobey (August 2003). "The Dark Carnival". In Nathan Fostey (ed.). ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8.
  10. ^ Full Clip: Scarface Breaks Down Geto Boys & Solo Catalogue. Vibe. August 6, 2010
  11. ^ Bush, John. "Geto Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved June 17, 2011
  12. ^ "Bushwick Bill Dedicates Album To Slain Prosecutor—Music, Celebrity, Artist News". Mtv.com. November 19, 1998. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  13. ^ "Bushwick Bill of Rap Group Geto Boys Dies at 52 After Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis". People.com. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  14. ^ Wyman, Bill (September 24, 1992). "An Eye for a Truth: Bushwick Bill in extremis/Turn Down That Damn Music!". Chicagoreader.com. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  15. ^ "A History of Rappers Getting Shot and Surviving". Complex.com. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  16. ^ "Geto Boys' Bushwick Bill Reveals Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis". Pitchfork. May 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Peters, Mitchell, Bushwick Bill, Founding Member of the Geto Boys, Hospitalized: Update[permanent dead link] Billboard Magazine, June 9, 2019
  20. ^ Aswad, Jem (June 9, 2019). "Geto Boys Rapper Bushwick Bill Dies at 52". Variety. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Setaro, Shawn. "Bushwick Bill Couldn't Be Stopped". Complex. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Bushwick Bill Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c Adelson, Betty M. (2005). 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.
  24. ^ Serrano, Shea. "The H-Town Countdown, No. 16: Bushwick Bill's Little Big Man". Houston Press. Retrieved June 11, 2019.

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