LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rapper Bushwick Bill, best known for his work with the Houston-based trio Geto Boys, has died after a four-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Billboard magazine reported on Monday.
The 52-year-old recording artist, publicly acknowledged in a video statement posted on May 1 by the celebrity website TMZ.com that he had been diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer in February.
Citing a statement from his publicist, Billboard said Bill died on Sunday evening at a Colorado hospital.
“His family appreciates all of the prayers and support and are asking for privacy at this time,” the statement said.
Reuters was unable to reach a representative for Bill to confirm the report.
In his May 1 video message, Bill said he wanted to record some new music before he died to provide additional “residual income” for his loved ones.
A video posted on Bushwick’s Instagram page over the weekend showed the rapper in his hospital bed, saying he had been hospitalized since May 24 with pneumonia attributed to chemotherapy he had been undergoing for his cancer.
Born with dwarfism in Jamaica as Richard Shaw, the diminutive performer started out as a warmup dance act for the original Geto Boys in 1986, performing as Little Billy, according to an Allmusic.com biography posted on the rap group’s website.
He joined a reconstituted lineup of the group as a rap singer in 1988 under the new stage name Bushwick Bill. The group’s debut album that year, “Making Trouble,” was initially blocked from release over a controversial track dealing with necrophilia and murder.
Bill made headlines again in 1991 when he accidentally shot himself during an argument with his girlfriend, losing his right eye. A photo of him being wheeled through a hospital hall on a gurney by his bandmates, Willie D and Scarface, was used as the cover art for the group’s 1991 second album, “We Can’t Be Stopped,” an LP that ultimately went platinum.
The shooting incident, which Bill admitted at the time was fueled by PCP and alcohol, was the subject of his single “Ever So Clear,” off his 1992 solo album “Little Big Man.”
The Geto Boys broke up in 1994, but regrouped a year later for a new album “The Resurrection.” Bill teamed up again with Willie D and Scarface on the 2005 reunion album “The Foundation.”
Over the years, Bill appeared on seven of the Geto Boys’ eight albums in a collaboration whose brand of provocatively violent and sexist imagery influenced southern hip-hop and rap’s “horrorcore” genre, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
Allmusic reported that the trio had returned to the studio to record another album together after a 10-year hiatus.
Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas