‘Love One Another and Stay Safe’: Rap World Reacts to Fatal Stabbing of Drakeo the Ruler

20December 2021

Snoop Dogg and other rap and hip hop artists are sharing condolences as they react to the fatal stabbing of West Coast rapper Drakeo the Ruler at a weekend music festival in Los Angeles.

Drakeo the Ruler, whose real named is Darrell Caldwell, was killed in an altercation at the Once Upon a Time in LA concert where the 28-year-old was scheduled to perform, leaving fans of the young musician and other artists heartbroken. No arrests were reported.

“My condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Drakeo the Ruler,” Snoop Dogg said in a statement on Twitter.

Snoop Dogg was scheduled to perform at the festival in Exposition Park south of downtown Los Angeles. He said in his statement that he was in his dressing room when the stabbing happened.

“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,” the statement said. “PRAYING FOR PEACE IN HIP HOP.”

In an Instagram stories post, Drake expressed his grief. The two men collaborated on  “Talk to Me” released in February.

“Nah man this s— isn’t right for real wtf are we doing,” Drake wrote.

Rapper Saweetie tweeted, “Man Drakeo was always hella cool & respectful. Prayers up for his family RIP The Ruler.

Caldwell, 28, was assaulted Saturday night at the event, which was expected to feature several artists, including Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Ice Cube. Organizers called off the festival after the stabbing.

A fight broke out behind the main stage shortly after 8:30 p.m., leaving one man severely injured by a suspect wielding an edged weapon, the California Highway Patrol said in a bare bones news release that did not name Caldwell. The victim was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Fire Department also responded.

LAPD spokesman Officer Luis Garcia told the Los Angeles Times that no arrests had been made as of Sunday.

Music journalists and fans delighted in Caldwell’s unique sound and boundless creativity. His death highlighted the violent demise of other talented young Black musicians, including fellow LA rapper Nipsey Hussle in 2019 and the highly influential Tupac Shakur in 1996. Both men were shot.

Caldwell, who started releasing mixtapes in 2015 and this past February debuted his first album “The Truth Hurts,” has been called “the most original stylist on the West Coast” for his darkly comedic lyrics and deadpan delivery. His mixtape “Thank You for Using GTL” contains verses recorded at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.

He grew up listening to acts like Hot Boyz, Boosie, Webbie and Dipset, but said it was a battle rapper named Cocky who influenced him to rap.

“He was so smooth and calm while rapping, despite saying some of the craziest stuff,” he told Billboard earlier this year. “It showed me you didn’t have to yell or be loud to get your point across.”

Caldwell pioneered a type of rap called “nervous music,” with songs that were cryptic and dark, the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2018: “His cadences run counterclockwise to the drums, somehow both herky-jerky like a stickshift and swift and smooth like a luxury sports car it controls.”

Caldwell was released from jail in November 2020 after reaching a plea deal with LA County prosecutors who wanted to try him on conspiracy charges in the 2016 killing of a 24-year-old man. Previously he had been acquitted of felony murder and attempted murder charges in the man’s death.

“We spent the hardest two years together fighting for his freedom, facing life, before walking out a free man just over a year ago,” Caldwell’s attorney, John Hamasaki, tweeted. “Through it, we became friends and then like family. I don’t even know how to start processing this. Thanks for the kind messages.”

The Once Upon a Time in LA Fest confirmed in an Instagram post that the event had been called off early, and did not give a reason.

The festival was organized by Live Nation, the Beverly Hills-based live events company that was behind last month’s Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas.

Ten people were killed and hundreds injured when a large crowd surged during a performance by the rapper Travis Scott.

In an email Sunday, Live Nation declined to elaborate on the altercation or provide details on security for the event.

NBCLA’s Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.
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