Anchored by spiritual performances and heartfelt speeches from his friends and family, DMX’s Homegoing Celebration on Sunday was less of a funeral and more of a celebration of the legendary rapper’s life and legacy.
After a monumental “Celebration of Life” at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday led by Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir to honor the iconic rapper, DMX’s Homegoing Celebration on Sunday was much more intimate. Lasting five hours at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, to a limited capacity of 2,000 people, Nas, Lil Kim, Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, and many others attended the private funeral. It was also livestreamed on BET Network and its YouTube channel.
After clergy opened the ceremony with scripture readings and prayers, the pastor of the Christian Cultural Center, Reverend A.R. Bernard, came forward to talk about the various gifts that DMX had, like being able to share his struggle and give others the ability to articulate theirs. “Today, we’re gathered in this palace to reflect on and celebrate the life, the work, the gift, the paradox that is DMX,” Bernard said as he closed his remarks.
New York City community leader and pivotal peacemaker Erica Ford then presented DMX’s family several citations and proclamations from the New York governor’s and Senate’s office, the American flag that was flying on the day that he died, and announced that December 18, his birthday, would now be DMX Day in New York state.
Ford highlighted that she had worked closely with DMX for several years to decrease gun violence in New York City. Actress Paige Hurd, DMX’s goddaughter, then took to the stage with some of X’s other children to talk about how the two first met on the set of “Cradle 2 the Grave.” Hurd also shared the prayer that she used to say with DMX.
“When we first met, our prayer was: Angels east, Angels west, North and south just do your best. To guide her, watch her while she rests. And now it’s up to me to endure this test. To love you and remember you at your best.”
After DMX’s children delivered speeches and a heartfelt rendition of Tori Kelly’s “Psalm 42” by Wé Ani, the minister Louis Farrakhan also joined the service via Zoom to send his condolences, saying that DMX was the same person in public as he was in private to a standing ovation.
Despite the ceremony being full of emotional testimonies from many of DMX’s close friends and loved ones, a couple did not land well, judging by the reactions in the livestream comments and on social media. Former Def Jam chief Lyor Cohen’s video featured was an overheard view of a beach, and addressed his previously stated opinion of the dichotomy in DMX’s personality — that Earl Simmons was a wonderful man while DMX was a gremlin. Some took issue with his comment, “DMX, I knew you were going to run into a wall. The unfortunate thing is you took my friend Earl Simmons with you. I hope the both of you rest in peace.”
However, the comments from Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, were at times shockingly tone-deaf, particularly when he spoke of his and DMX’s problems with drug abuse.
“I saw him go through struggles. I had been through struggles, so I recognized it,” Simmons said, seated cross-legged on a couch, presumably in Bali, where he has been residing for the past couple of years. “God knows I went through a lot of drugs, and I even was addicted at one point to cocaine. I was really just addicted to being high, but specifically cocaine. So, I had all these experiences so I could relate to this man, and I know I was very lucky to have escaped. And this brother was going through what I had been through, and I knew it. And I did very little… And I’ll never forget that I didn’t do much to help.” The comments were unsparing.
Like Saturday’s ceremony, Swizz Beatz, Ruff Ryders founders Joaquin “Waah” Dean and alumni shared their memories of meeting DMX.
“X left us to bring us together,” Waah said. “Because we’re all going through something right now and what we need is each other. So he leaves us and gave us this great album that we need to give to Dee and Swizz.” They then had a moment of silence and remarks from Swizz Beatz and other Ruff Ryders alumni.
“DMX was definitely not an artist to me. He was a brother, he was a friend,” Swizz said. “The key thing is he maintained his passion, he maintained his strength. He was barking and howling on stage to hide the real things that he was going through. He was a sweetheart. He was the most giving and loving person that I ever met, and I always wanted to protect him. I felt it was my job to protect him.”
After DMX’s former wife, Tashera Simmons, recounted how the two first met when she was 11 years old, she shared what he said to her six days before he was admitted into the hospital:
“He said, ‘I’m here for the world. God put me here for the world…God birthed me to be in the world. I am not of the world. I’m for the world.’ And I said, ‘I believe that, Earl,’” Simmons said. Tasheera then embraced DMX’s fiance Desiree Lindstrom in a special moment. Lindstrom followed by sharing everything she cherished about DMX.
As the Homegoing closed, DMX’s obituary was read from the stage, concluding with a (poorly filmed) virtual performance from Faith Evans. All of DMX’s children also received custom Ruff Ryder vests with “Young Ryders” inscribed on the front. It was a fitting close to a weekend-long celebration of a tumultuous life that ended too soon.