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'Stop the violence’: Loved ones and fans pay respects to Baltimore rapper Dee Dave at viewing, vigil

David King Jr., aka Dee Dave, was killed in a shooting in Essex early on Jan. 24, according to his father, David King Sr.

Several dozen family members, friends, collaborators and fans honored Baltimore rapper Dee Dave on Friday by celebrating his music, praising his uplifting message and emphatically calling for an end to the violence that claimed his life one week earlier.

Those paying respects filed into the pews at the Calvin B. Scruggs Funeral Home, in the city’s Oliver neighborhood, and filled the lobby. The remembrance took place a week after David Leroy King Jr., the 29-year-old rapper also known as Dee Dave, was killed in an early morning double shooting on Jan. 24 outside of the Kings Mills apartment complex in Essex. The rapper laid in repose with a black baseball cap, with a life-size cardboard image of him standing next to his coffin.

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Surrounded by loved ones paying respects, King Jr.'s father David King Sr. and grandfather, also named David King, stood strong.

“I’m hurting, but I’m not showing I’m hurting,” said King, the grandfather.

“I’m staying grounded in my spiritual beliefs ... just taking it one day at a time,” King Sr. added.

Both men shared a call for people to “stop the violence” plaguing the area. Baltimore County, where Essex lies, experienced 50 homicides last year — its deadliest year on record. The city, where Dee Dave frequently performed, experienced 348 homicides the same year.

Baltimore County Police Department spokesperson Officer Jennifer Peach said that the double shooting that took Dee Dave’s life is still being investigated.

“As a family, we wish that everything would stop,” King said. “Especially in Baltimore. I don’t want Baltimore to have that kind of black mark on it.”

The family and supporters shared a similar message during a vigil at the Towson American Legion on Thursday night. There, an audience of at least 100 people listened as speakers, including King and King Sr., praise Dee Dave’s record of positive and uplifting music and implored people to share any information that might help solve the killing. Some of that music was also played over loudspeakers as people danced and conversed in celebration of Dee Dave’s life and work. At one point, attendees briefly chanted “Real 4Eva,” the name of the acclaimed album he released last year.

Toward the end, as captured on social media by writer, activist and Dee Dave’s good friend D. Watkins, attendees released numerous balloons (including ones spelling “DEE DAVE”) into the sky.

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Members of Greater Baltimore’s music scene shared similar remembrances of Dee Dave’s life and music in the days after his death.

Dee Dave was killed mere hours after a show in East Baltimore, and just before he was to go to Atlanta for what his father told last week might be his “big break.

King Sr. said fans can pay their respects during the funeral at the Eastern United Methodist Church, 5135 Harford Road in Baltimore, on Saturday morning. The wake will start at 9:30 a.m., and the program will begin an hour later. A musical tribute is also in the works, King and King Sr. noted.

Baltimore Sun reporter McKenna Oxenden contributed to this report.

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