The latest episode of the National Podcast of Texas airs in its entirety a never-before-heard 2013 interview with Houston rap icon Bushwick Bill. Sunday morning, major news outlets reported that the 3-foot-8-inch Houston MC—who, alongside Scarface and Willie D., led the most infamous incarnation of The Geto Boys—had succumbed to Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The dire diagnosis itself was only made public in early May.
While that announcement turned out to be premature (within a few hours of it, Bushwick Bill’s family had posted on the rapper’s official Instagram account that he was alive but in the hospital “fighting for his life”), Bill died later that day.
In our interview, the oft-troubled MC (born Richard Shaw in Kingston, Jamaica) details several encounters with mortality and outlines the professional and personal impact of a life-altering commitment to spirituality (he was born again in 2006). The conversation was recorded February 20, 2013 inside Austin’s legendary Arlyn Studios, where he camped out for several months to record a live-band reinterpretation of his first Christian rap album, 2009’s My Testimony of Redemption. Although the Austin sessions resulted in an album that the Austin Chronicle later reported was titled Checks and Balances, it was never officially released. As a result, the story Texas Monthly had planned to coincide with the project’s release never got written and this interview was never used in print or aired elsewhere. Much of what’s in the interview—from details about the lost album to the story behind a 2010 drug arrest and Bill’s possible deportation by U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement—appear to be unavailable in his own words anywhere else.