By Mike Miller
June 10, 2019 at 01:34 AM EDT
Gary Miller/FilmMagic

Bushwick Bill, co-founding member of the legendary rap trio Geto Boys, has died at 52.

“Bushwick Bill passed away peacefully today at 9:35 p.m. His family appreciates all of the prayers and support, He will truly be missed,” the rapper’s publicist Dawn P. confirmed on Instagram. “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.”

The rapper (né Richard Stephen Shaw) revealed he was having health problems in an interview with TMZ in May, explaining that he’d been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since February and was undergoing intensive chemotherapy.

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At the time, Bushwick Bill said he had been keeping his diagnosis to himself. “I’ve only told close family members, but that’s about it,” he said — adding that he hadn’t told his fellow Geto Boys founders Scarface and Willie D about the diagnosis.

Bushwick Bill also told the outlet that he doesn’t fear death, noting that 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.”

He added, “That’s not what it’s really about. It’s about life and loving life. I just want people to be aware so that when they set dreams or goals, they’re healthy enough to fulfill and live.”

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Amid rumors he had died earlier on Sunday, Bill’s son wrote on the rapper’s official Instagram page that he was still “fighting for his life,” adding that “certain people have been so quick to write him off as dead so they can capitalize off it.” He added, “There is no Geto Boys without Bushwick Bill.”

The Jamaica-native, who was born with dwarfism, officially joined the Geto Boys in 1986 after performing as a backup dancer for the group. Together with Willie D and Scarface, the Geto Boys put Houston and southern hip hop on the map at a time when the East and West Coasts dominated the scene. With hits like “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” and “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster,” which was famously featured in 1999’s Office Space, the trio paved the way for future southern acts like OutKast, UGK, T.I., Lil Wayne, and many more.

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