Nate Dogg

Todd Williamson/FilmMagic

All dogs go to heaven, so we're less than 24 hours from Nate Dogg's ascendance.

A jam-packed public viewing was held today for, in the words of Eminem, the "irreplaceable" hip-hop star in his native Long Beach.

Fittingly, the send-off, attended by hundreds of fans, took place at New Hope Baptist Church, where Nate Dogg (real name Nathaniel Hale) got his musical career rolling by singing in the choir.

The hip-hopster died unexpectedly last week at the age of 41. Nate had been ailing for years, exacerbated by two massive strokes in 2007 and 2008.

For those unable to make today's viewing, Nate's family has announced that 1,000 tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis for Saturday's funeral, scheduled for 10 a.m.

Among the hip-hop stars expected to be at the burial are longtime collaborators Dr. Dre, Warren G and Nate's cousin Snoop Dogg, all of whom were among the architects of the West Coast rap scene.

Saturday's service was originally going to be open to the public, but Long Beach officials nixed the idea fearing disruptions posed by a massive turnout. People who do not have a ticket will be turned away.

The funeral will be followed by a public memorial at the Queen Mary Dome, which is the former home of Howard Hughes' famed Spruce Goose.

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