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Why Bushwick Bill Matters

(Music Matters)

Charles L. Hughes

In 1989 the Geto Boys released a blistering track, "Size Ain't Shit," that paid tribute to the group's member Bushwick Bill. Born with dwarfism, Bill was one of the few visibly disabled musicians to achieve widespread fame and one of the even fewer to address disability in a direct, sustained manner. Initially hired as a dancer, Bill became central to the Geto Boys as the Houston crew became one of hip-hop's most important groups.

Why Bushwick Bill Matters chronicles this crucial artist and explores what he reveals about the relationships among race, sex, and disability in pop music. Charles L. Hughes examines Bill's recordings and videos (both with the Geto Boys and solo), from the horror-comic persona of "Chuckie" to vulnerable verses in songs such as "Mind Playing Tricks On Me," to discuss his portrayals of dwarfism, addiction, and mental illness. Hughes also explores Bill's importance to his era and to the longer history of disability in music. A complex figure, Bill exposed the truths of a racist and ableist society even as his violent and provocative lyrics put him in the middle of debates over censorship and misogyny. Confrontational and controversial, Bushwick Bill left a massive legacy as he rhymed and swaggered through an often-inaccessible world.

 

Table of Contents:

  • A Note on Terminology
  • Introduction
  • How Little Billy Became Bushwick Bill
  • Bum-Rush the Freak Show
  • "Size Ain't Shit"
  • Can't Be Stopped
  • "He Ain't What You Expect"
  • Child's Play
  • "Brand New Preacher, Rap Game Teacher"
  • Greatest Showmen
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

 

Charles L. Hughes is the director of the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes College. He is the author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, which Rolling Stone named one of "Best Music Books of 2015," as well as numerous articles that have appeared in a variety of publications.

 

  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (June 15, 2021)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1477322310
  • ISBN-13: 9781477322314
  • Item Weight: 1.11 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 7 inches