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US rapper Drakeo the Ruler stabbed to death at LA festival



US rapper Drakeo the Ruler has died after being stabbed at a music festival in Los Angeles.

The 28-year-old, whose real name was Darrell Caldwell, had been scheduled to perform at the Once Upon a Time in LA festival on Saturday night.

His publicist confirmed his death to several US media outlets on Sunday morning.

The artist was reportedly stabbed during an altercation backstage around the time he had been due to perform.


Los Angeles police are investigating, but told reporters no arrests had been made as of Sunday morning.

Drakeo the Ruler had more than 1.5m monthly listeners on Spotify, and collaborated with Canadian rapper Drake on the single Talk to Me.

Paramedics responded to a call about a stabbing at about 20:40 local time on Saturday (04:40 GMT on Sunday). Reports say the rapper was then taken to hospital but later died from his injuries.

The BBC has contacted his representatives for comment.


The festival’s promoter, Live Nation, confirmed that there was an “altercation in the roadway backstage” at the event, which was also scheduled to include performances from rappers 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg.

“Out of respect for those involved and in co-ordination with local authorities, artists and organisers decided not to move forward with remaining sets so the festival was ended an hour early,” it said.

Writing on Twitter, Snoop Dogg said he had been “in my dressing room when I was informed about the incident and chose to immediately leave the festival grounds”.

“My condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Draeko the Ruler,” he said. “I’m praying for peace in hip-hop”.


As news of Drakeo’s death spread, other performers shared tributes on social media.

“Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo,” Drake wrote on his Instagram stories early on Sunday.

The rapper Saweetie tweeted: “Man Drakeo was always hella cool and respectful. Prayers up for his family. RIP The Ruler.”

Jim Jones urged his peers to stay safe. “They know who we are cause of our fame but we don’t know who they are because of our fame,” he wrote in an Instagram post.


“Feels like we lost a rapper every week this year. There was a time when we [were] protected in th[e] community, we were treated as super heroes. Not no more.”


‘Nervous music’ pioneer

Known for his offbeat cadence and cryptic lyrics, Drakeo was born on 1 December 1993 in South Central Los Angeles and raised by a single mother.


After spending much of his youth in correctional facilities, he was drawn to music as a way of escaping the pitfalls of street life.

His first mixtape, I Am Mr Mosely, was released in 2015 and pioneered a jerky, polyrhythmic sound he called “nervous music”.

He later recorded verses for the mixtape Thank You for Using GTL over a phone while he was being held at Men’s Central Jail awaiting trial in connection with the 2016 shooting death of a 24-year-old man.

Drakeo was later acquitted, but prosecutors sought to retry him on conspiracy charges. He entered a plea deal and was released from prison in November 2020.


In an interview with The Ringer shortly after his release, Drakeo said his aspiration was to “get my mom and everybody that I can take care of out of poverty”.

“I’ve got to make sure that they’ll never have to want for nothing again. I want to show people that no matter how hard the situation is, my story proves that anything is possible.”

He wasted no time, issuing a mixtapes in late 2020, followed by his debut album, The Truth Huts, earlier this year.

Although his music never troubled the charts, he was recognised as an innovator by his peers.


In a post on Twitter, LA writer Jeff Weiss called Drakeo the “greatest west coast artist of a generation, a legend who invented a new rap language of slippery cadences, nervous rhythms, and psychedelic slang”.


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