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

The memorial at the Brooklyn Arena on Saturday was closed to the public and was restricted to close friends and family members due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers said in a statement that they will follow COVID-19 testing guidelines and protocols in New York.

The ceremony, broadcast live on DMX’s YouTube channel, started more than two hours late.

The Kanye West Sunday Service Choir opened the ceremony with a gospel. The hoodie-sweatshirt ensemble played a few songs, including the classics “Oh Lord, How Excellent” and “Keep On Movin ‘”. The choir took the stage during other moments of the ceremony with “Ultralight Beam” and the Whitney Houston-sponsored hymn “Jesus Loves Me.”

At a touching moment, DMX’s 15 kids gathered on stage to talk – and sometimes rap – the star father who taught them lessons like “Always say thank you,” “Be kind to everyone,” and fear Sometimes show a person how to be brave. Relatives emphasized his love for Jesus and his urge to make his fans happy and give the audience the best show he could every time.

Nas remembered talking to a DMX with tears in his eyes while filming a scene from Belly, a crime drama. He said DMX got emotional because he knew the rapper was going on a journey to become a “hip-hop icon”.

“It’s both a sad and a delightful day,” said Nas, who starred in the 1998 film with DMX. “That was my brother. We made a great film together. He was just rising to star in this film. His first album wasn’t even out yet, but he knew his journey was about to begin. “

Eve said she still had a tough time with DMX’s death and remembered him as “husband, father, friend”. She was on stage with the collective Ruff Ryders, which included several members such as Swizz Beatz, Jadakiss, Styles P and Drag-On.

After Eve spoke, Styles P spoke about a time when he and DMX were both in the same jail. He said and DMX got him out of his cell and then took him to part of the jail where he started a band and a bunch of MCs.

“DMX was the most ghetto-est person that ever existed,” said Styles P. “What it means to us is indescribable. … Whenever you’ve seen him, this man was in pain, but he was built out of love. “

Jadakiss said DMX was “the happiest he’s ever been” in the past few years.

A massive black ferris wheel truck with “LONG LIVE DMX” written on the side of the vehicle carried DMX’s bright red box more than 15 miles from Yonkers, New York, where the rapper grew up, to the Barclays Center. Motorcycles followed the truck during the procession before arriving at the arena where thousands of people crowded the streets.

Thousands of motorcyclists surrounded the monster truck and turned on their engines. Others gathered in the arena while some of the biggest songs from “Where The Hood At” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” played from the crowd.

Cynthia Roberts, a 57-year-old Brooklyn resident, said she’s been a fan of DMX since his days at Ruff Ryders. She showed up at the arena to pay homage to the rapper and said she was impressed with his rhymes, voice and musicality.

“He was a real guy. He spoke his truth. He touched my soul, ”said Roberts, wearing a DMX t-shirt. She called the rapper’s music “timeless”.

“I tell myself that’s what he was brought here for,” she continued. “We all have jobs to do and he did his job.”

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

Programs with DMX images were distributed to the service participants. The four-page booklet contained various pictures of the rapper, including one with his arms crossed and another photo of him standing on stage during a performance.

No details were given about who could appear, perform or speak.

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

DMX hit 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 the rap crews too: DMX ran the Ruff Ryders collective, which helped launch the careers of Grammy winners Eve and Swizz Beatz, and the relaunch of The Lox, previously signed to Bad Boy Records was standing. Ruff Ryders had success in the charts and on the radio with his compilation albums “Ryde or Die”.

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

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

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Landrum reported from Los Angeles.

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