Norman Seabrook’s voice wasn’t trembling when he stood to speak. With extra emphasis, he told a packed audience, gathered at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica, Queens, that he sought to end gun violence after the murder of his cousin Lionel “Chinx” Pickens.
“I’m always speaking about gun violence. I’m always speaking about how our kids are killing each other, how we are shooting each other,” said Seabrook, who is the president of the New York City Corrections Officer’s Benevolent Association (COBA). “How one person is dead and another person goes away for 50 years. They are dead too. We gotta do better than this. We must do better than this.”
He spoke about Chinx doing the right thing for once in his life, and pointed out that his cousin wasn’t doing anything unlawful—no guns or drugs were found in the Porsche he was driving the night he was killed. Instead of the allotted two minutes for family members to say their remarks, Seabrook went longer because he felt the issue of gun violence needed to sink in. As a sign that he was serious about his mission, he told everyone to stand up and applaud loudly.
“We need to understand that the gun violence against each other needs to stop!” he shouted. “I want y’all to stand up and give Chinx a round of applause ’cause, brother, we want you to hear this!”
Chinx’s family was joined by friends, members of the hip-hop industry, and fans from all across New York who were all touched by Chinx’s music and kindness at the memorial for the Coke Boys rapper that was held Tuesday morning.
Chinx, who was 31 years old, was shot and killed the morning of May 17 at Queens Boulevard and 84th Drive. His friend Antar Alziadi, better known as Yemen Cheese, was also shot and wounded, but survived after taken to Jamaica Hospital. Police have not found a suspect, but believe Chinx’s death and Stack Bundles (who was killed eight years ago in Far Rockaway) are related.
The two-hour service was filled with sadness, but as Chinx’s loved ones and colleagues (including his mentor French Montana, Zack, and the Coke Boys) paid their respects, the mood in the sanctuary gradually became uplifting and comforting. There were two screens that projected moments from Chinx’s life—a photobook of his hip-hop performances, time spent with his children, and moments with his wife, Janelli Caceres. The photos all painted a picture of a man who was more than a rap star on the rise, but a person who wanted to give his family a better life.
“I sit here and I look out and I see so much love there is in the room for Lionel,” Chinx’s manager, Doug “Biggs” Ellison, said. “I know that he is smiling knowing that so many people loved him.”
Fans paid homage to Chinx with an assortment of tribute T-shirts: “Rest In Peace Chinx, “Long Live Chinx,” “Riot In Peace,” and “#NoShootingNYC” were some of the more visible ones. "His music helped get me through my grandmother passing, and he’s inspirational," said Long Island native Nick Cagnoli, a longtime fan of Chinx, who named his favorite song as "Wake Up."
“Lionel, every time you see him, he was smiling,” said Chinx’s aunt, Sabrina Pickens. “The big dimple on his face—that’s all you could see every time you see Lionel in person or in pictures. He was a family man. He loved his family like nobody could imagine.”
After the obituary reading and closing prayer, everyone was led outside to see the white hearse take Chinx’s coffin away. The afternoon sun was beaming. Onlookers on Merrick Boulevard, mixed with heavy police presence, watched as a stream of supporters came out of the cathedral to show Chinx their gratitude. As his family would tell it, Chinx's goal was to leave a lasting impression in hip-hop. It was a goal he worked towards until his last breath.
“If you’re not trying to change the game, why are you in it?” — Chinx
Always smiling even when it's hard, just like his father! This home of ours ain't perfect, but rest in peace in your perfect home now, my brother. Sometimes life hurts more than death when you lose a loved one. Terrible to love something that death can touch. #ripchinx #realone
A photo posted by French Montana (@frenchmontana) on May 26, 2015 at 11:18am PDT
Eric Diep is a writer living in New York. Follow him @E_Diep.