BROOKLYN, N.Y. — DMX went out like an icon: Family, friends and fellow artists joined together to pay their respects to the legendary rapper at his memorial service Saturday.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, usually booming with basketball fans or concert attendees, housed a somber celebration for the life of the late rapper. Masked family members and friends honored his life together with a pared down audience of about 200 people at the venue, which can seat up to 19,000. The melodies of Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir flooded the arena, shaking its walls.
Artists, family and friends got on stage to acknowledge the impact the Ruff Ryders rapper had on their lives. Members of the Ruff Ryders music label like Eve, Swizz Beatz, Drag-On and founding member Joaquin “Waah” Dean shared the mic to express words of gratitude and lessons he taught them.
“Thank you for the energy that everyone has brought here today, the celebration of how great we all know DMX was, (and) what he has left behind,” rapper Eve said, on the brink of tears. “This is so hard, y’all. He will rest in power, rest in love, but most of all he will rest in peace.”
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Swizz Beatz sent a poignant message.
“I just wish all these people showed up for him when he was here,” the “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” producer said. “He needed everybody when he was here, we got to learn to celebrate each other while we’re here.”
Nas, who starred alongside DMX in the 1998 movie “Belly,” took the stage saying it was “an honor to be here” but also “it’s a sad day.”
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Fans gather outside to honor DMX with music and celebration
Amid police barricades outside the area was filled Saturday with public affection and respect for the late DMX, who died April 9 after suffering a heart attack. The roar of motorcycle engines blended with the thumping sounds of the rapper’s hit songs like “What’s My Name,” “Party Up (Up in Here)” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.”
Fans from around the region and even as far as Florida came to show support. Self-described “die hard” fan Meia Parker, who showed up in a handmade airbrushed shirt with the rapper’s face sprawled across the front, said in her home DMX “was family.”
“I remember my grandma’s favorite song was ‘Party Up.’ She would blast that song every Friday after she came home after she cashed her check,” Parker said. “That was her song.”
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Before the memorial started inside the arena, a giant monster truck with some of DMX’s closest friends hanging out the side windows came barreling behind motorcycle escorts playing “What’s My Name.” The truck doors read “Long Live DMX.” DMX’s shiny red coffin with platinum handles and Ruff Ryders logos stamped on the front rode on the back of the truck closely fastened to the bed.
“When that red coffin came, I cried,” Parker said. “I was chasing it like a little girl chasing an ice cream truck with her last dollar. Listen, I felt that.”
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Ruff Ryder motorcyclists filled the sunny New York skies with a thick cloud of smoke. They cranked engines, wearing shiny metallic and black helmets, black leather vests and thick boots. The riders participated in a ride out starting in Yonkers, New York, and took their rubber on the highway all the way to the front of the Barclays Center.
As they approached to the venue, they made their presence known, revving up their engines, eventually surrendering to the voice of DMX over the speakers. It was a symphony of graveling growls.
A floral arrangement laid out in the formation of the rapper’s “X” emblem stood on what felt like hallowed ground within the marked-off areas of the arena. Above it, like a halo over the Barclays’ dome, was a photo of DMX with angel wings next to his quote:
“We each have a star, all we have to do is find it. Once you do, everyone who sees it will be blinded.”
The memorial services was streamed live on DMX’s official YouTube page for the public. BET will also host a homegoing celebration, “BET Remembers DMX,” to commemorate the rapper’s life. According to a press release, the event will be broadcast and streamed by BET on Sunday, beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m. PST. Following the program, the network will air movies and documentaries featuring DMX to honor him.
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