Bushwick Bill: Growing Up

In order to describe Bushwick Bill’s past public persona, you would have to use words such as “sordid,” “repugnant,” or “sleazy.”  Although standing 3 feet 8 inches in stature, the Brooklyn, New York native and former Geto Boys comrade has raised more hell in more cities than your favorite rapper.  Stories of indecent behavior, drunkenness, […]

In order to describe Bushwick Bill’s past public persona, you would have to use words such as “sordid,” “repugnant,” or “sleazy.”  Although standing 3 feet 8 inches in stature, the Brooklyn, New York native and former Geto Boys comrade has raised more hell in more cities than your favorite rapper.  Stories of indecent behavior, drunkenness, suicide attempts and all-out craziness have been well documented, few of which that have yet to be repudiated. However, as with most things, change was bound to happen.The man who once recited disturbing lyrics from “Mind Playin’ Trick On Me” has incited a riot once again.  Only this time, Bushwick Bill is a born-again Christian and purports his new attitude of peace, love and redemption through Jesus Christ.  As stunning as it sounds, little known details of his Christian upbringing make his story more palatable to all who are in the know. Bill’s debut Christian album, the aptly titled Testimony of Redemption, brings forth a tale of a man who has been to hell, came back, went back to hell and came back once more.  The difference is that this time, Bushwick Bill is here to stay.Here Bill talks about his own personal testimony of redemption and how an unexpected life-changing event awakened his spiritual senses.  He also lends a few toothsome nuggets on Hip-Hop history and imparts some invaluable wisdom that is sure to open an eye or two.  AllHipHop.com: You have a very interesting new album that you are releasing soon, titled Testimony of Redemption.  Let’s talk about this new album at length.Bushwick Bill: Yeah, I’m just telling about how things have gone in my life. It has everything in there; I left no stone unturned. [The album] is a “wear your heart on your sleeve” type of situation.  AllHipHop.com: Would you describe the album as an outpouring of the man that you are today?Bushwick Bill: Yeah.  Did you listen to [the song] “Spiritual Warfare?”  That’s my favorite song.AllHipHop.com: I did listen to it, and I have to say that I am shocked at what I heard.  Bushwick Bill: That talks about everything that I am going through.  That was the third song that I did. AllHipHop.com: Let me first ask the obvious question.  What drove you or inspired you to make this kind of album?Bushwick Bill: I had to make the record.  After I made the first three songs, I didn’t want to do anymore songs.  The way the songs were coming together, [they] were all spiritually ordained.  It wasn’t like I woke up and said, “This is the song I’m going to do.”  It was more like I was reading the Bible and they just jumped out at me.  And then, all of these trials and tribulations started happening to me.  I started going to jail for tickets and disorderly conduct. It was weird. I didn’t really understand it. One day, I got drunk and started running around, acting crazy, totally oblivious to life and what was going on.  I almost set myself on fire.  What is it that they call that?AllHipHop.com: I believe the world calls that a drunken stupor! Bushwick Bill: Yeah, that’s what it was.  That was the last incident.  After that, I took some time to look at myself and look at what was happening.  I was like, “Man, when I was working on that record, everything was cool.”  I was able to analyze what I was going through and put it into spiritual context that shows cause and effect, rhyme, reason and deliverance.  Once I stopped working on the record, I became full-fledged under attack.  It seemed like I had no protection at that time because I wasn’t under the protective covering.  I was just back there, wallowing in my old ways.  I had to see it for what it was.  Now that I have finished the album, different things are happening.  It feeds my soul as well as whatever God’s intention for anyone else that listens to it.  I realize that it’s a ministry.  It’s something that God’s going to use to deliver His people.  He allowed me to go through certain things so that it could be put in a song and people can understand it for themselves.  AllHipHop.com: Many Christians are able to pinpoint exactly where they were and what was happening when they received Christ as their Lord.  Share with the readers exactly what transpired in order for you to meet God.Bushwick Bill: I was out on bond for something they said I did in Austin (Texas).  They said I was wanted for disorderly conduct.  During the filming of MTV’s The Real World, I got into a little brawl or whatever.  They said they had a warrant out on me for two years at that time, and this happened in 2004.  So, in 2007 when they were talking about it, I was out on bond. They never gave me or the bond company a court date.  I was at my wife’s grandmother’s house visiting, and all of a sudden, a bounty hunter ran up in there and pointed a shotgun at my wife, my daughter and my grandmother.  Then, he pointed the shotgun at me and said he was looking for me.  They locked me up and they had to let me right back out.  It was at that moment that I realized that if you’re not right with God, these are the kinds of things that can happen to you.AllHipHop.com: In the song “Testimony of Redemption,” you talk about being called into ministry when you were eighteen years old…Bushwick Bill: Yeah, and I just came down here (Houston) to visit my sister and ended up becoming a rapper.  I got into the ways of the world, so to speak.  That changed me dramatically.AllHipHop.com: I can still remember your lyrics from “Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” and you on the album cover after being shot in the eye.  Seeing you then and seeing you as you are now, it is hard to believe that you are the same person.Bushwick Bill: When I met the Geto Boys, I was on my way to India to do missionary work.  The next thing that I know, I was discovered by DJ Lonnie Mac, who introduced me to DJ Reddy Red, who introduced me to Lil’ J., and as they say, the rest is history.  When I was in Bible school, I was still listening to The Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, LL Cool J and anything that Marley Marl was a part of.  I was a kid from Brooklyn so…I was a break dancer, a graffiti artist, the whole nine.For whatever reason, God allowed me to be a rapper because He knew what rap music would become.  Who else would they respect, other than someone who raps certain songs, lost his eye, been pronounced dead and came back to life?  I’m telling them that God is real, and they can look back on what I’ve said and done, and what I’ve been through.  They should research God and see for themselves because I’ve been through so much and I’m still here.  I don’t know how long gospel rap has been around.  Personally, I call it “gospel anointed poetry.”  Rap offers many facets of thought and many feelings from different walks of life.  [Rap] offers many points of view of what poverty is, what being rich is, what being fulfilled is, and at the end of the day, you’ll see people like Hammer make a whole bunch but have nothing.  Then again, you’ll see people who make very little but still strive.  What rap started selling is “as long as I got money, no one else is relevant.”  When LL made his first song, he was talking about “I’m 16 and making more than your pops.” It was always dealing with reality.  This is what’s going on in the hood and this is what we will broadcast live.  So, I thank God for having the opportunity to show where I’m at and who God is to me.  I’m not saying I’m righteous and holier than thou, because the Bible says there is none righteous (Romans 3:10).  I’m not saying I’m better than anyone, but God has given me the opportunity to show my testimony of redemption as to how I’ve been redeemed.  If I don’t live accordingly, the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and there is no other opportunity beyond this one.AllHipHop.com: I notice that your album has many references of praise for women, with your wife being the particular recipient of said praise.  Is this your way of making amends for the many disparaging images of women that you brought forth in the past?Bushwick Bill: The way that the Geto Boys were put together, they thought it would be ok if I were the most misogynistic and angry one of the group.  They realized that I had more intelligence than they wanted people to see.  When I say “they,” I don’t mean the group; I’m talking about the spiritual wickedness in high places.  They wanted me to look like just a short, angry dude and not somebody that knew God and understood righteousness and how women should be respected.To be honest, those songs turned into a part of my personality.  When they talk about (the late) Heath Ledger and how he portrayed different characters, they became a part of his personality.  I could understand that.  Every night, I was reliving these lyrics, and the Bible says that what proceeds from the mouth comes from the heart (Matthew 15:18).  If you are memorizing these things, it’s like you are meditating on God’s word.  If you are meditating on the wickedness of lyrics that are not uplifting, those words don’t speak life.  It weighs heavy on your spirit and it alters the mind.  Whether people want to realize it or not, it does change the heart.  AllHipHop.com: What is your opinion on the relevance of gospel rap as it relates to the current Hip-Hop structure?Bushwick Bill: To be honest with you, when God gave me the desire to rap for Him, I didn’t know how I could call it “Holy Hip-Hop.”  I grew up in Brooklyn.  I was a part of the Guardian Angels. I was a graffiti writer hanging out with Fab Five Freddy.  I knew all of these people.  I was there when they opened up the first Hip-Hop Gallery.  I was there when Beat Street was being filmed.  I actually went to the Loews Theatre for the Mr. Magic Rap Attack Review and met Run-DMC.  It was a street driven thing just to show art, style and fashion.  It was a braggadocios thing.  Hip-Hop was always boasting, and if you read 1 Corinthians 13, it says not to boast or brag.  So, calling Hip-Hop “holy” is something that I can’t say.  But, I can call it “gospel anointed poetry.”  The Songs of Solomon are poetry.  If someone tries to make Hip-Hop “holy,” that would mean that anyone who raps would have to be holy.  Hip-Hop represents a culture of people who come from poverty trying to come into their own.  [They are] leaving behind drugs, gangbanging, snatching purses, snatching jewelry and being stick-up kids.  Like Rakim said in Paid In Full, “I used to be a stick-up kid, now I think about the devious things I did.”That’s all people know in Hip-Hop and what they used to do just to get a demo tape out.  There’s nothing holy that any of them have done.  There’s nothing holy about even the studio casting couches, where females who came in trying to be rappers was b#### before they could say a rap verse. Even when the time came for videos, somebody was doing something with some female who wanted to be in the video.  So, if anybody wants to be mad at that, be mad at that.  AllHipHop.com: The climate of Hip-Hop is currently riddled with beef all over the place.  Before the YouTube rumors begin, I want to get into a few comments on the album and give you the chance to explain them.  You made the comment “Kanye (West) gets more press for talking about Bush than Jesus.”  Let the public know what you meant by this.Bushwick Bill: If you look at the way the media feeds you, it’s more controversial to talk about the President than it is to talk about the savior of all mankind.  America was one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.  That was something that was said and taught in schools.  The Pledge of Allegiance used to incorporate “under God.” Now, because of different religious beliefs, the “under God” part came out.  AllHipHop.com: This country’s foundation was based upon Christian beliefs and principles that…Bushwick Bill: All of a sudden, there became a separation of what?  Church and state.  [We use] the word “govern,” which is what the human mind does; it governs the body’s actions.  If we have a government that governs a people, and they no longer say that they are one nation under God, they take that out of the public schools. [It’s done] based on many religious beliefs.  We (the United States) are a melting pot of people that welcomes all, and a state is a state of mind or a state of being.  The government is more of a state of mind than a state of being and they want to respect all religions.  But, they will only put a man in office that claims to be a Christian.