Brisk weather and cold wind weren't enough to stop friends, family and locals from paying respect to Heavy D, as the late rapper was mourned during a public viewing in his hometown of Mount Vernon, New York on Thursday (November 17). Lines wrapped around Grace Baptist Church, as attendees were sullen, with a mix of eagerness and melancholy filling their faces.

After contributing to the hip-hop landscape for over two decades, Dwight "Heavy D" Myers was celebrated by many, including fans who braved the elements.

"I definitely don't mind missing work for this," proclaimed a proud fan as she passed by a couple Mt. Vernon police officers who regulated the lines.

Heavy D was dapper  in a cream pin-striped tux, lying peacefully as many walked in bowing in prayer and shedding tears. Decorated with wreaths and portraits, the church offered a warm, comfortable, and intimate setting for that came to praise and pay respects to the fallen hero. The iconic rapper passed earlier this month after suffering respiratory problems. He was rushed to a hospital in Los Angeles and later pronounced dead, shocking many in the hip-hop community. Just last month, Heavy D made an appearance at the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, where the "Overweight Lover" graced the stage and performed a medley of his hits.

Thursdays events kick-off the two-day farewell for the lionized figure. On Friday, the rapper and former executive is scheduled to be laid to rest. Diddy and a host of other celebrities are expected to be in attendance.

Stay tuned to for a wrap-up of tomorrow's private funeral. —Ralph Bristout