Shrouded under red lighting and hooded sweatshirts, speculation soon swirled on Twitter if it really was West and the Sunday Service Choir on stage, but a representative for DMX’s family confirmed to Variety that they performed at the memorial.
The memorial took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. with a limited capacity of 1,900, and was also livestreamed on DMX’s YouTube and Instagram accounts. En route to Barclays, DMX’s casket was carried by a black monster truck with “Long live DMX” painted on the side. A procession of hundreds of motorcyclists, in homage to hip-hop collective Ruff Ryders, rode from DMX’s birthplace of Yonkers to Barclays Center.
After a two-hour delay, the service began with a video of DMX and his daughter riding a rollercoaster, during which DMX can be heard saying in a comforting tone, “It’s okay, daddy’s here.” Then, a clip of DMX performing a spoken-word poem appeared on the screen. “I fear that what I’m saying won’t be heard until I’m gone/ But it’s all good because I didn’t really expect to live long,” DMX says. “So if it takes for me to suffer for my brother to see the light/ Give me pain til I die/ But please lord treat him right.”
After a moment of darkness, the Sunday Service Choir appeared on stage in red sweatsuits, delivering a rousing rendition of Soul II Soul’s “Keep on Movin’,” and the transitioning into their arrangement of “Excellent.” As the choir performed in a circular formation around a live band, DMX’s cherry-red casket, emblazoned with the Ruff Ryders logo, was set on stage behind them. The Sunday Service Choir then sang “Amen,” building to an emotional and choral crescendo. Though it was difficult to spot West in the crowd of the choir, sources did confirm to Variety that the rapper was in attendance.
DMX had previously led a prayer at one of West’s Sunday Services in 2019 and was lauded for his faith during the service. Following speeches made by DMX’s family, including an adorable rap performed by his young daughter, the Sunday Service Choir brought a more uptempo pace to the memorial by performing “You Brought the Sunshine” by the Clark Sisters. Next was the hymn “Jesus Loves Me,” popularized by Whitney Houston, featuring entrancing vocals from a soloist.
In between performances from the Sunday Service Choir, DMX’s family and friends gave speeches in remembrance of the rapper, who died on April 9 at age 50 after suffering a heart attack a week earlier. Rapper Nas, who appeared with DMX in the 1999 film “Belly,” reminisced about working with DMX on the set of the film, before his first album had even dropped.
“That was my brother. We did a great movie together,” Nas said. “And on that movie, he was just rising up as a star. His first album didn’t even come out yet, but he knew his journey was starting. We stood outside the Tunnel nightclub about to shoot a scene, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes because he knew about the journey he was about to go on becoming a hip-hop icon.”
Ruff Ryders founders Joaquin “Waah” Dean and Darin “Dee” Dean also paid tribute to DMX, while revealing that a new, posthumous album from DMX would be coming soon.
“We never walked away from Earl and we never will, you know that?” Waah said. “Ride or die, this is the real deal.”
Eve then took the stage, giving an emotional speech about what DMX meant to her.
“I am seriously the luckiest, luckiest woman in the world to have been adopted by the Ruff Ryders, but to have known DMX the way that I knew him as a man, a father, a friend,” Eve said. “This is so hard y’all… I know that he will rest in power, rest in love, but most of all he will rest in peace.”
Lastly, Swizz Beatz spoke in honor of DMX, saying how he wished that the people who showed up for DMX after his death would have also been there for him in life.
“Words can’t describe our loss, but our gain is heavy as well because we got a real serious person upstairs who’s gonna guide us on our journey,” Beatz said. “I just wish all these people showed up for him when he was here… this man needed everybody. He didn’t need everybody when he was not here, he needed everybody while he was here. So we need to learn to celebrate everyone while they’re here.”
Watch the Sunday Service Choir perform “Keep on Movin'” below.