DMX being mourned during memorial service in Brooklyn

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People gather for a “Celebration of Life Memorial” for rapper DMX at Barclays Center, Saturday, April. 24, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. DMX, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, died April 9 after suffering a “catastrophic cardiac arrest.” (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman)

NEW YORK (AP) — Rapper DMX is being mourned at a memorial with family and close friends at the Barclays Center in New York.

Saturday’s memorial at the Brooklyn arena was closed to the public and restricted to only close friends and family due to pandemic conditions.

Organizers said in a statement they will follow New York COVID-19 testing guidelines and protocols.

The ceremony, which was being livestreamed on DMX’s YouTube channel, began more than two hours late.

A massive black big-wheel truck with the words “LONG LIVE DMX” on side of the vehicle carried DMX’s shiny red casket for more than 15 miles from Yonkers — where the rapper grew up — to the Barclays Center. A plethora of motorcycles trailed the truck during the procession before arriving at the arena, where thousands of people crowded the streets.

Thousands of motorcycle riders surrounded the monster truck, revving up their engines.

Cynthia Roberts, a 57-year-old Brooklyn native, said she has been a fan of DMX since his Ruff Ryders days. She showed up at the arena to pay homage to the rapper who she said was struck by his rhymes, voice and musicianship.

“He was a true guy. He spoke his truth. He touched my soul,” said Roberts, who was sporting a DMX T-shirt. She called the rapper’s music “timeless.”

“I tell myself he was put here for that,” she continued. “We all have a job to do, and he did his job.”

DMX, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, died April 9 after suffering a “catastrophic cardiac arrest.” He spent several days on life support after being rushed to a New York hospital from his home April 2.

Programs with images of DMX were handed out to service attendees. The four-page book had different images of the rapper including one with his arms folded with wings and another photo of him standing on stage during a performance.

No details were given about who may be appearing, performing or speaking.

The 50-year-old Grammy-nominated rapper delivered iconic hip-hop songs such as “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up (Up in Here).” He also starred in several films including “Belly” and “Romeo Must Die.”

DMX arrived on the rap scene around the same time as Jay-Z, Ja Rule and others who dominated the charts and emerged as platinum-selling acts. They were all part of rap crews, too: DMX fronted the Ruff Ryders collective, which helped launch the careers of Grammy winners Eve and Swizz Beatz, and relaunch The Lox, formerly signed to Bad Boy Records. Ruff Ryders had success on the charts and on radio with its “Ryde or Die” compilation albums.

Along with his musical career, DMX paved his way as an actor. He starred in the 1998 film “Belly” and appeared in 2000′s “Romeo Must Die” with Jet Li and Aaliyah. DMX and Aaliyah teamed up for “Come Back in One Piece” on the film’s soundtrack.

His funeral service will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. It will be broadcast live on BET and the network’s YouTube channel.

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