Rapper Drakeo the Ruler dies at 28 after stabbing at music festival
Drakeo the Ruler, the critically acclaimed Los Angeles rapper, has died after a reported stabbing at a music festival. His press representative confirmed his death to the Guardian but did not give further details.
The 28-year-old, whose real name was Darrell Caldwell, had been scheduled to perform at the Once Upon a Time festival in Los Angeles. A source speaking to the LA Times said Caldwell had been attacked on the festival site by a group of people on Saturday evening. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition, where he later died.
The festival’s promoter, Live Nation, said: “There was an altercation in the roadway backstage. Out of respect for those involved and in coordination with local authorities, artists and organisers decided not to move forward with remaining sets so the festival was ended an hour early.” A set by Snoop Dogg was cancelled.
Caldwell had not crossed into the mainstream, but was a hugely admired cult figure in his city’s rap scene. He released his debut mixtape in 2015, and went on to release 10 more full-length projects.
In 2017, he was jailed for 11 months for illegal firearm possession. In March 2018, he was detained once more, on a murder charge dating back to a shooting incident in December 2016.
He continued to record music while incarcerated – the mixtape Thank You For Using GTL was recorded down a prison phone line – and was eventually acquitted of the murder charges in July 2019. After a plea deal for a charge of criminal conspiracy, he was released in November 2020.
After his release, he made the album The Truth Hurts, including the single Talk to Me with guest star Drake. Drake was among those paying tribute, writing on Instagram that Caldwell “always picked my spirit up with your energy”.
The Los Angeles journalist Jeff Weiss, who had campaigned for his freedom, paid tribute, calling him “the greatest west coast artist of a generation, a legend who invented a new rap language of slippery cadences, nervous rhythms, and psychedelic slang”.