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Kanye West and his Sunday Service choir lead tributes to DMX at rapper's Brooklyn memorial

KANYE West and his Sunday Service choir have led tributes to DMX with a performance at the rapper’s emotional Brooklyn memorial.

Rapper and actor DMX or Dark Man X, whose real name was Earl Simmons, died on April 9 at the age of 50.

A huge black monster truck emblazoned with “Long Live DMX” took the late rapper’s body from his home town of Yonkers to Brooklyn, NYC, Saturday afternoon for the service at the Barclays Center.

The truck which carried DMX’s red coffin on its trailer was flanked by members of the Ruff Ryders label along with hundreds of motorbikes.

At the center, the rapper and his acclaimed gospel group opened the service with an arrangement of Soul II Soul’s “Keep On Movin’.”

The audience was limited to 1900, ten per cent of the Barclays Center capacity, but was streamed on DMX's YouTube channel.

Later on, the choir performed their original track, “Excellent,” as well as “You Brought the Sunshine” by the Clark Sisters and the hymn, “Jesus Loves Me.”

Rappers Nas and Swizz Beats also performed along with Eve, Jadakiss, Styles P  and Drag-O, ooriginal members of the hip-hop collective Ruff Ryders, which launched DMX toward stardom.

DMX had suffered a heart attack the week before at his home in White Plains, New York, which has been attributed to a drugs overdose but this has not been confirmed by his family.

The procession kicked-off at midday in Yonkers, where DMX spent his childhood from the age of five in the School Street Projects, before gaining worldwide stardom.

The ride was called The Ruff Ryders 2 The Rescue: Ryde 4 Life, referencing the Ruff Ryders label which became famous for managing the star.

DMX’s song, Ruff Ryders Anthem, shot back into the charts following his death.

Footage posted on social media showed the truck pulling up to the arena just after 2pm where the hip-hop star was honored in a memorial service.

A vast crowd of fans had gathered to pay their last respects.

Outside the Barclays Center a large white X floral arrangement was on display while the front of the building also had a display.

It featured an image of the rapper with wings accompanied with lyrics from his song Fame: “We each have a star, all we have to do is find it. Once you do, everyone who sees it will be blinded.”

'Earl 'DMX' Simmons 1970-2021,' it read.

The memorial at the Barclays Center was closed to the public due to Covid restrictions but was be streamed live on DMX's YouTube account.

A second event will be broadcast live on BET Sunday at 2.30pm ET from an undisclosed church in the New York City area.

His chart-topping songs included "Party Up (Up in Here)" and "X Gon' Give It To Ya."

The Yonkers, New York native's career had been marked by legal troubles and prison time, and a well-publicized struggle with drug addiction.

Fans had gathered for days before his death, holding prayer vigils outside the suburban New York hospital, where he had been reported on life support and in a coma.

His rap career had an impressive start, with his debut album in 1998 "It's Dark and Hell is Hot," listed as number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States. It sold more than 5 million copies.

Along with being mourned by fans around the world, his death spurred an outpouring of condolences from stars such as Chance the Rapper who said on social media, "Rest in Heaven DMX."

Missy Elliott tweeted: “Even though you had battles you TOUCHED so many through your MUSIC and when you would PRAY so many people FELT THAT!”

She added: “This is heavy for the HipHop family but your LEGACY LIVES ON & your SPIRIT. Continued Prayers for X family & friends for STRENGTH/HEALING.”

Others stars paying their respect included Oscar-winners Viola Davis and Halle Berry, rap legend Ice Cube, and NBA star LeBron James. 

His longtime label Def Jam said in a statement Friday: “Def Jam Recordings and the extended Def Jam family of artists, executives and employees are deeply and profoundly saddened by the loss of our brother Earl 'DMX' Simmons.

“DMX was a brilliant artist and an inspiration to millions around the world. His message of triumph over struggle, his search for the light out of darkness, his pursuit of truth and grace brought us closer to our own humanity.”

The statement added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who loved him and were touched by him. DMX was nothing less than a giant. His legend will live on forever.”

DMX leaves behind 15 children.

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