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Bushwick Bill, Of Houston Rap Group Geto Boys, Dead At 52

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Photo By LaNell Taylor - February 8, 2019 backstage at rapper Lil Sin's Birthday Bash

June 10, 201911:27 AM ETHeard on All Things Considered

Houston rapper Bushwick Bill, a founding member of the pioneering rap crew Geto Boys, died on Sunday evening in Colorado, his publicist, Dawn P., confirmed with NPR. A cause was not given pending a medical examination; the rapper was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer. He was 52 years old.

Born Richard Shaw in Kingston, Jamaica, the artist moved to Bushwick, Brooklyn as a young child — hence his rap moniker — before relocating to Houston, where he first joined the Rap-A-Lot Records-assembled group in the early-to-mid-’80s as a breakdancer and hype man. But as members came and went, he found his way to the mic.

Known for his brash persona and performative storytelling, Bill’s unhinged, engaging bars on Geto Boys classics like “F*** a War,” “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” and “Mind of a Lunatic” were central to the group carving out its place as a pioneering Southern rap unit in the late ’80s and early ’90s. While Scarface was hailed as the lyricist of the group, Bushwick Bill’s appeal lied in his erratic, say-anything verses. In hip-hop’s Golden Era, Geto Boys is credited with putting Houston on the map by pioneering horrorcore — a rap subgenre rooted in nightmarish imagery, physical abuse and psychological horror. Many of rap’s current stars, from Jeezy and Lil Wayne to Juice WRLD and 21 Savage, have cited Geto Boys as an influence.

In the span of a decade, from 1988 to 1998 — including a three-year hiatus, from ’93 to ’96 — Geto Boys released an impressive six albums. As a soloist, Bill released six solo albums from 1992 to 2010, while Geto Boys reunited for a 2005 album, The Foundation. In 2019, on the heels of Bill’s cancer diagnosis, the members announced they were planning a farewell tour, to be called The Beginning of a Long Goodbye, The Final Farewell. The tour was later cancelled due to Bill pulling out of the performance dates.

Bushwick Bill was born with dwarfism and suffered from joint pain. In October 1991, Bill — drunk on Everclear and arguing with his then-girlfriend as he details in the song “Ever So Clear” — was shot in the eye. Willie D and Scarface posed alongside Bushwick Bill in the hospital halls the night he was shot, a photo which would later be used as the album cover of the trio’s 1991 seminal album We Can’t BeStopped. To date, it remains the group’s best-selling. In 2010, Bushwick Bill was arrested in Atlanta, charged with criminal possession of cocaine and marijuana and facing possible deportation.

Bill first shared the news that he was battling cancer on May 1, 2019. In a video posted to TMZ, the ailing rapper announced he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in February 2019 and, up to that point, had not told his fellow Geto Boys, Willie D and Scarface. Later that same month, Bill was hospitalized with pneumonia and was forced to cancel the remaining shows on the Geto Boys reunion tour. “Now, the rumor is I pulled out on the tour, but if my health was a concern then you would know about my health, not about me pulling out of the tour,” the rapper told fans in an Instagram video shot, speaking from a hospital bed. “This is a health issue. Pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy gave me pneumonia.”

Speaking to Vice in 2015, ahead of a screening of the horror film Child’s Play that he was set to host in Los Angeles, Bushwick Bill explained the hope he found in fusing rap and the macabre: “There are these little moments in life where if you’re under the right stars and the right light hits you, or when the northern lights are going by you could become a superhuman being. To be able to be bigger than who you are, I think people have always been fascinated with that. That you could turn into a werewolf and be strong, or that you could use electricity and bring something back to life.”

Additional reporting by Andrew Flanagan

(Source: NPR)

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Crown Royal Aged 18 Years Honors Chopped & Screwed Music and the Icons That Keep The Houston Community Thriving

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Crown Royal Aged 18 Years continues to redefine what luxury means with a celebration that honors the Chopped & Screwed legends who’ve paved the way for the future changemakers in the Houston community and new musical royalty across the globe.

Tonight, on DJ Screw Day, the anniversary of the iconic mixtape that started the Houston-born Chopped & Screwed genre, the award-winning whisky brand will host an extra rare night of music, art and culture. With curated music from OG Ron C of the Chopstars and Dr. Anne Lundy, the first African American woman to conduct the Houston Symphony, guests will experience a fusion of old and new luxury.

“I’m so grateful to have found a partner in Crown Royal 18, who truly understands what bringing together so many key players of the culture means. Honoring such an extra rare expression of music means so much to my community,” shares Chopstar, producer and DJ OG Ron C. “This partnership is not only about how I express myself through the slow, artfully curated process of making a track, but also about celebrating the real within the Houston community and beyond that truly embodies this journey that I and many of my peers have embarked on.”

Crown Royal 18 Year Old will prepare a royal stage for the Chopped and Screwed sound to be celebrated – mixing iconic hip hop tracks with live orchestration, spoken word and dance – for a one-of-a-kind performance that the distinctive music genre deserves.

“The contributions of Chopped & Screwed music have provided a platform for Houstonians to connect and express themselves through the arts,” says Nicky Heckles, Vice President of Crown Royal. “We are thrilled to bring together such influential leaders in the community for this extra rare evening to celebrate all the amazing work they have achieved and their positive impact on past and future generations.”

Those unable to join the performance in person will be able to experience the vibes of the unforgettable evening wherever they are by downloading the ‘Extra Rare: Chopped & Screwed‘ playlist curated personally by OG Ron C. Over the next 18 days, each stream and download of the Spotify playlist will provide a donation on behalf of Crown Royal 18 Year Old to the Community Music Center of Houston (CMCH), a non-profit that preserves black music traditions especially those to which the community is seldom exposed and are being lost, to keep the extra rare essence of the Houston community thriving.*

“I am honored to be a part of this momentous occasion and to have the Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra with me. I founded the orchestra to create opportunities for the Black community to perform together and showcase Black excellence in Houston,” Dr. Anne Lundy, CMCH Music Director, Conductor, Violinist, Educator and Ethno-musicologist explains. “The extra rare essence of every community deserves to be put on a stage and this partnership with Crown Royal 18 Year Old helps me continue with my mission of honoring and uplifting the next generation of musicians.”

Crown Royal has been a long standing supporter of the Texas community. In addition to its spotlight on the Houston community and Chopped & Screwed icons, the whisky brand recently celebrated the Black rodeo community in Fort Worth, Texas with an inaugural Juneteenth procession ride in celebration of the holiday and the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo.

Crown Royal invites everyone 21+ to toast to the artist communities. Please remember to drink responsibly.

*Each stream, like and download within the 18 day period (June 27th – July 15th) will unlock a $1 donation up to $25,000.

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2nd Annual Crown Awards – National Crown Day Weekend

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ISSA RAE, TABITHA BROWN, MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL, KYM WHITLEY, MARC MORIAL, MICKEY GUYTON AND MORE TO BE HONORED AT THE 2nd ANNUAL “CROWN AWARDS” DURING NATIONAL CROWN DAY WEEKEND IN NEW ORLEANS JULY 1 – 3, 2022

Dove announced the talent line-up for National CROWN Day’s weekend celebration.  Since 2018, Dove along with the CROWN Coalition have championed the CROWN Act; a tremendous and active movement, resulting in 17 states officially enacting the CROWN Act legislation into law, U.S. (United States) Virgin Islands, first U.S. territory to make hair discrimination illegal; grown the CROWN Coalition from 4 members to 90+ and secured over 400K petition signatures.  Now, it’s time to celebrate Black Hair Independence!

Hosted by Emmy Award winning journalist and community activist Tashara Parker, this year’s awards will celebrate these achievements and honor Black women and girls who have significantly shaped the beauty landscape at the 2nd Annual “CROWN AWARDS” taking place Sunday, July 3, 2022.

National CROWN Day is gearing up to be an incredible, star-studded event this year.  The following talent has been confirmed for National CROWN Day weekend:

Essence Festival

  • Esi Eggleston Bracey, CEO, Unilever North America Personal Care and President of Unilever USA, “Wealth & Power Stage” Panelist
  • Dre Brown, Dove Self-Esteem Project Educator, “Wealth & Power Stage” Panelist
  • Tabitha Brown, actor and entrepreneur, “Wealth & Power Stage” Panelist

“CROWN AWARDS” presenters, honorees, and special guests:

  • Karma Bridges, actor and entrepreneur, “Karma’s World”
  • Novi Brown, actor, “Tyler Perry’s Sistas” – BET
  • Tabitha Brown, actor and entrepreneur
  • New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell
  • Michaela Angela Davis, author and activist
  • Faith Fennidy, student activist
  • Figure Skating in Harlem
  • Mickey Guyton, country music starlet
  • Alaya “Lay Lay” High, rapper and actress, “That Girl Lay Lay” – Nickelodeon
  • Tina Lifford, author and actor, “Queen Sugar” – OWN
  • Marc Morial, President, National Urban League
  • Ebony Obsidian, actor, “Tyler Perry’s Sistas” – BET
  • Tashara Parker, Emmy Award Winning Journalist/ Community activist | “CROWN Awards” host
  • Issa Rae, producer, writer, director, actor and entrepreneur
  • Crystal Renee, actor, “Tyler Perry’s Sistas” – BET
  • The Shindellas, Female Vocal Group – Disney
  • KJ Smith, actor, “Tyler Perry’s Sistas” – BET
  • Mignon Von, actor, “Tyler Perry’s Sistas” – BET
  • Kym Whitley, actor and comedian, “Two Funny Mamas”

JOY Collective will once again produce this year’s “CROWN Awards.”

Media interested in media credentials for the various events in New Orleans, should contact Yulisa Sanchez, yulisa@joycollective.com.

About The CROWN Coalition  
The CROWN Coalition is the official national supporter of the CROWN Act movement; an alliance founded by DoveNational Urban LeagueWestern Center on Law & Poverty and Color Of Change, along with 100+ CROWN Act supporting organizations. The CROWN Act movement is led by a team of Black women: Esi Eggleston Bracey (CEO of Unilever North America Personal Care), JOY Collective Agency leaders Kelli Richardson Lawson and Orlena Nwokah Blanchard (CEO and President), and ABA Consulting CEO, Adjoa B. Asamoah working with a village of Black leaders and the community who share a desire to end discrimination.

On March 18, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act, and if a companion bill passes in the Senate, it would make hair discrimination based on the texture of natural hair illegal under Titles VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and other Federal civil rights laws.  The CROWN Act and laws inspired by the CROWN Act have been enacted in 17 states: California (2019), New York (2019), New Jersey (2019), Virginia (2020), Colorado (2020), Washington (2020), Maryland (2020), Connecticut (2021), Delaware (2021), New Mexico* (2021), Nebraska* (2021), Nevada (2021), Oregon* (2021), Illinois* (2021), Maine (2022), Tennessee* (2022), and Louisiana (2022). Three additional bills are awaiting governor’s signature in Alaska, Illinois* and Massachusetts.  In 2021, Illinois original bill, Senate Bill 3616 was a protection for schools ONLY; the new amendment to SB3616 would add the protection of workplaces as well.
*Legislation inspired by the CROWN ACT

Dove has also expanded its work to incorporate diversity in swimming, ensuring an end to hair discrimination in the workplace, schools, and pools. The CROWN Coalition members believe diversity and inclusion are key drivers of success across all industries and sectors. For a full list of CROWN Coalition members and Dove research studies that quantify the issue of hair discrimination, visit www.thecrownact.com

Dove.com/CROWN and theCROWNAct.com

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President Biden Proclaims Black Music Month

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2022 as Black Music Appreciation Month.

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     Music has the power to lift our spirits, comfort our souls, and inspire our hearts.  It gives a voice to the human spirit, creating a common language that unites people and breaks down barriers.  Perhaps no music has had as profound and powerful an impact in shaping America’s musical score as Black music.  Intricately woven into the tapestry of our Nation, Black music enriches our lives and pushes the boundaries of creativity.  Throughout the decades and across the country, Black music has fueled a myriad of genres — from rhythm and blues to jazz, gospel, country, rap and more.  This month, we celebrate the extraordinary legacy of Black music on American culture and recognize the indelible impact it continues to have on the world. 

     For generations, Black music has conveyed the hopes and struggles of a resilient people — spirituals mourning the original sin of slavery and later heralding freedom from bondage, hard truths told through jazz and the sounds of Motown during the Civil Rights movement, and hip-hop and rhythm and blues that remind us of the work that still lies ahead.  The music created by Black artists continues to influence musicians of all persuasions, entertain people of all backgrounds, and shape the story of our Nation.

     During Black Music Appreciation Month, we honor Black musicians, singers, and contributors to the music industry — past and present — whose innovative talents unite us in joy as much as in sorrow and healing.  We pay homage to the musical legends whose artistic expressions help build community, generate empathy, and foster a sense of shared identity.  And we celebrate Black artists who have used their songs to stand up to injustice, fight for equality, and reflect a mirror on society — reminding us all of our enduring obligation to deliver the promise of America for all Americans.

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2022 as Black Music Appreciation Month.  I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month by honoring Black Musicians and raising awareness and appreciation of Black music.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.

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