The hip hop industry is in mourning after learning that Geto Boys’ rapper and co-founder, Bushwick Bill, has passed away at the age of 52, after an ongoing battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The late rapper’s publicist, Dawn P., confirmed in a statement to A.P. News that the music icon passed away Sunday night (June 9) surrounded by family and loved ones. Fellow rappers and fans alike mourned Bill’s death in a series of social media posts, including fellow groupmate Willie D, along with rappers Snoop Dogg, Bun B, Busta Rhymes and more.
On today’s episode of Black Coffee, hosts Marc Lamont Hill, Gia Peppers and Jameer Pond took time to remember the late artist’s legacy, specifically reflecting on Bill’s advocacy for mental health.
“He fought a lot of demons in his life and it [was] sad to see that, but he also had a great impact on hip hop, and I’m proud of the legacy,” Pond expressed.
Hill revealed he ran into Bushwick not too long ago, and recounted the positive encounter.
“A lot of people don’t know that the original Geto Boys didn’t have Wille D in them. It didn’t have Scarface. But they [always] had little Billy. Bushwick Bill was a backup dancer, became a rapper, and J Prince had the genius to know that he was a necessary part of the group,” Hill started.
“[Bill] was going through personal stuff. Battling demons, and eventually became a born again Christian. I saw Bushwick a few years ago, he was in good spirits, I was real happy to see him, and I was happy to see him happy.”
Hill touched on the impact Bill’s diagnosis had on him, and the strength he was able to witness from Bill, between the time he was diagnosed, up until moments before his death.
“When I heard he had pancreatic cancer, it really hit me hard. Not just for what he meant to hip hop and his conversations about mental health, [but also], his conversations about self growth and development. All that stuff is cool. But when I saw him dealing with cancer and the courage that he dealt with it, he was still trying to hit the road. He was still trying to work. He still had faith that he’d be okay,” Hill said emotionally.
“It just made me think about our physical health and what we’re doing as a community. When I was in college, rappers were getting shot. Now we’re dying from diseases.”
While Hill acknowledged that not every disease, condition or bodily dysfunction is avoidable, and that some illnesses are just inevitable, he did emphasize the need for more Black people, especially men, getting into the idea of preventative health care.
“We’ve got to normalize good health and self-care and going to the doctors. If you’re over 40, you should be getting prostate checkups every year. All these things are part of it.