Los Angeles rapper Drakeo the Ruler has died after being stabbed at a star-studded 12-hour concert at Banc of California Stadium at Exposition Park, according to multiple media reports today.
Officials have not confirmed the victim’s death or identity, but one of the rapper’s representatives confirmed the information with Rolling Stone magazine and the Guardian, and colleagues were posting their shock and condolences on social media. The California Highway Patrol released the following statement Sunday:
“On Saturday, December 18, 2021, at approximately 8:36 PM, a fight broke out behind the main stage of the Once Upon A Time In LA music festival in Los Angeles. During the altercation, one man was severely injured by a suspect wielding an edged weapon. Officers from the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles Police Department, and Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local area hospital. The case is currently under investigation by the CHP. Any witnesses with information about this incident are asked to contact Southern Division Investigative Services Unit at 323-644-9550.”
Drakeo, whose real name was Darrell Caldwell, was taken to a hospital in critical condition where he later died, according to multiple outlets including the Los Angeles Times, TMZ and the online publication Complex. He had just turned 28 on Dec. 1. The Once Upon a Time in LA Music Festival, which was slated to run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, was shut down early by police and firefighters after the violence broke out, according to Officer G. Todd of the LAPD’s Operations Center.
Artists including Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, George Clinton, Al Green, the Isley Brothers and Cypress Hill were scheduled to perform. Video from the scene showed several people arguing and fighting outside the concert just before the stabbing, but it was unclear what sparked the confrontation.
“There was an altercation in the roadway backstage,” a Live Nation spokesperson said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “Out of respect for those involved and in coordination with local authorities, artists and organizers (we) decided not to move forward with remaining sets so the festival was ended an hour early.” The LAPD tweeted at 10:34 p.m. Saturday that “There has been an incident at the Once Upon A Time in LA festival at the Banc of California. The festival has concluded early.”
Overnight, social media was filled with tributes to Caldwell, including one from fellow rapper Drake, who collaborated with him earlier this year on the song “Talk to Me.” “Nah man this s— isn’t right for real, wtf are we doing,” Drake wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of the two together. “Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo.”
Snoop Dogg tweeted a statement about the incident Sunday morning. “I’m saddened by the events that took place last night at the Once Upon a Time in LA festival. My condolences go out to the family and friends of Drakeo the Ruler,” he wrote. “I’m not with anything negative and as one of the many performers, I was there to spread positive vibes only to my city of LA. Last night I was in my dressing room when I was informed about the incident and chose to immediately leave the festival grounds.
“My prayers go out to everyone affected by tragedy,” the Long Beach rapper continued. “Please take care, love one another and stay safe ya’ll. I’M PRAYING FOR PEACE IN HIP HOP.” Journalist Jeff Weiss shared his thoughts on Twitter. “RIP 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, who beat life twice only to suffer the most tragic fate conceivable,” Weiss wrote, punctuated with a broken heart emoji. “The Ruler, once, always, and forever.”
Caldwell was a Los Angeles native who has released 10 mixtapes since 2015 and put out his first studio album earlier this year titled “I Am Mr. Mosely.” Critics have cited his unique flow and “oddly expressive, poetic word- choices.” The Times called him “the most original West Coast stylist in decades.’ He recorded the mixtape “Thank You For Using GTL” at Men’s Central Jail while awaiting trial in the 2016 killing of a 24-year-old man, according to The Times, which said he was acquitted of murder and attempted murder charges. Caldwell later pleaded to conspiracy charges in connection with the killing and was released in November 2020, the newspaper added.