The rapper, who rose to fame more than two decades ago as one-third of the rap group Geto Boys, had been diagnosed with the disease in February.
A representative of the rapper, who was born Richard Shaw, confirmed his June 9 death to various media outlets.
“Bushwick Bill passed away peacefully this evening at 9:35 p.m. He was surrounded by his immediate family,” the late star’s publicist Dawn P. said to Rolling Stone in a statement. “There were incorrect previous reports that he had passed away this morning. We are looking into doing a public memorial at a later date. His family appreciates all of the prayers and support and are asking for privacy at this time.”
Premature reports circulated midday Sunday stating that Bushwick Bill had passed away. However, Dawn P. told TMZ that her client was “still alive and fighting cancer.” Speaking to The Associated Press, she said the rapper was hospitalized and on a ventilator in Colorado.
After going public with his cancer diagnosis, Bushwick Bill told TMZ, “I figure keeping it myself is not really helping nobody, and I’m not really afraid of dying because if anyone knows anything about me from ‘Ever So Clear,’ I died and came back already in June 1991, so I know what it’s like on the other side.”
Bushwick Bill had been referring to getting shot in the eye during what he later told Vice was him trying “make an accident happen” to get insurance money for his mother.
The rapper initially joined Geto Boys in 1986 as a dancer. Bushwick Bill was famously pictured on the cover of the Geto Boys’ 1991 album “We Can’t Be Stopped” on a gurney following the shooting that led him to wear a patch over his eye. His group members Willie D and Scarface flanked him and the record included the trio’s most well-known single, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”
Still, the rapper expressed regret over having such a graphic album cover down the line, as he explained in the book “Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies.”
“It still hurts me to look at that cover because that was a personal thing I went through,” Bushwick Bill, who had a form of dwarfism, said in the book, which was published in 2007. “I still feel the pain from the fact that I’ve got a bullet in my brain. To see that picture only brings it back more so. I think it was pretty wrong of them to do it, even though I went along with the program at first.”
After the confirmation of Bushwick Bill’s death emerged, many hip-hop and rap acts poured out with their public condolences.
“R.I.P. the Legend Bushwick Bill 🙏🏿 prayers up for his family,” tweeted Juicy J.
“R.I.P…… BUSHWICK BILL… YOU WILL BE MISSED…. ,” said Biz Markie
“Rest In Peace 🙏🏻” the rap group Cypress Hill tweeted in part.