About 2,000 people — celebrities, family members and close friends — will gather inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday to honor DMX, who died in White Plains, N.Y., on April 9 at 50, days after suffering a heart attack.
The memorial for the rapper, born Earl Simmons, is expected to start around 4 p.m. A separate homegoing service will be held at another location on Sunday. Both events will be streamed online, but closed to the general public; in New York, indoor arenas are limited to 10 percent capacity because of the pandemic.
A Barclays Center spokeswoman said on Friday that the event would not be broadcast on screens outside the arena, though fans were still expected to turn out in droves to memorialize DMX’s life.
DMX, who received three Grammy nominations, sold millions of records throughout his rap career and became the first musician to have his first five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart.
But even when DMX was the most popular rapper in the world, the connection to him remained uniquely personal for many New Yorkers.
After his death, stories of “that one time I met X” flooded social media, where people shared memories of running into him at barbershops, receiving his help lugging bags out of grocery stores, listening to his advice on addiction and forgiveness in hotel hallways, and being brought to inescapable smiles after randomly hearing him shout, “What’s up” from across the street.
Many tales were infused with the sense that even with his talent and troubles, DMX’s gruff exterior was penetrable in his everyday interactions, especially those in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y., where he was raised.
Some details of the memorial at Barclays Center and its schedule were still being ironed out late on Friday afternoon. But it was expected that members of the Ruff Ryders record label, where DMX rose to prominence, and other artists would be in attendance, in addition to relatives and close friends.
In DMX’s final days, family and friends gathered with hundreds of fans outside White Plains Hospital and on School Street in Yonkers, near the housing project where he grew up, playing his music, praying, crossing their arms above their heads in the shape of an X. After his death, an artist painted a mural of DMX at a Yonkers community center where, as a teenager, the rapper tagged a basement wall with his stage name, followed by the words “the great.”
Another portrait went up in the Bronx, outside a restaurant owned by a member of the Ruff Ryders motorcycle club. The phrase “Ecclesiastes 3” is written alongside the image, a nod to the spirituality that permeated DMX’s music and performances, and a reference to the Bible chapter that includes the verses, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.”
The motorcycle group held a vigil for DMX last week alongside hundreds of fans. The group has planned a ride from Yonkers to Brooklyn on Saturday morning before the memorial at Barclays Center.
DMX came to the arena in 2017 for a reunion show with Eve, Swizz Beatz, Drag-On and other artists from Ruff Ryders. He last performed at Barclays in 2019 for the annual “Masters of Ceremony” show, one of his final large productions, which came amid a comeback after public struggles with addiction and his release from prison months before.
Years earlier, in 2012, DMX had made another return, for his first New York concert following a gap in performances there. The moment, he said in an interview, was significant.
“Any performance I do, I give 110 percent,” he told Billboard at the time. “But it’s New York — it’s special.”
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