Hip hop’s finest showed up to honor the life and legacy of rapper Earl “DMX” Simmons Saturday during the “Celebration of Life” memorial service that was livestreamed on YouTube.
DMX died April 9 of a heart attack at age 50. The Ruff Ryders alum spent days on life support and never recovered.
Artists like Swizz Beatz, Drag-On, Eve, The Lox and more gathered at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York to pay tribute to the Grammy-nominated rapper and actor who was carried in a red casket with a Ruff Ryders symbol on the side.
The ceremony started nearly three hours later than expected, but once it began, it kept to the spiritual nature that comes through DMX’s music.
Kanye West and his Sunday Service Choir opened the ceremony singing uplifting songs like Soul II Soul’s “Keep On Movin,” and gospel classics like “You Brought the Sunshine” from the Clark Sisters.
DMX’s fiancée Desiree Lindstrom was one of the first to appear on stage with the couple’s five-year-old son, Exodus, and DMX’s other 14 children. “DMX wasn’t just a rapper he was the best dad ever,” said DMX’s oldest son, Xavier.
One of X’s daughters, Sonovah Junior, rapped the chorus on his song, “Slippin,” which she changed into, “Aye yo, I’m growing, I’m learning to hold my head / My daddy’s still holding my hand, so I gotta stand up.”
Rapper Nas reflected on working with his longtime friend during the filming of the ’90s cult-classic film, Belly.
“At the same time it’s a sad day, it’s a glorious day,” said Nas. “We did a great movie together and on that movie he was just rising up as a star. His first album, [It’s Dark and Hell is Hot], didn’t even come out yet but he knew his journey was starting.”
Ruff Ryders co-founders Joaquin “Waah” Dean and Darrin “Dee” Dean appeared on stage with the entire Ruff Ryders camp to speak on their personal relationship with DMX and announce his next album will likely arrive this summer. “You are not an artist, you are our brother,” added Joaquin.
DMX was responsible for introducing the Dean brothers to The Lox rappers, Jadakiss and Styles P, who also became part of the Ruff Ryders family.
“Anybody that’s seen him in his last year or two, he was the happiest he ever was in his life,” Jadakiss said, before an emotional Styles P shared his own sentiments.
“He did nothing but celebrate us and push us,” Styles P continued. “He was the most incredible individual because from the beginning of his career to the end, he’s accomplished something that no one has ever accomplished. He was in pain the whole way.”
Fellow Ruff Ryder Swizz Beatz was the last to speak as he reminded everyone to give their loved ones their flowers now rather than later.
“I just wish all these people showed up for him when he was here,” Swizz said. “This man needed everybody. He didn’t need everybody when he’s not here, he needed everybody when he was here. So we gotta learn how to celebrate each other while we’re here.”
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