Drakeo the Ruler, a rapper and South Los Angeles native, was fatally attacked Saturday night at the Once Upon a Time in LA Festival at the Banc of California Stadium. Born Darrell Caldwell, the 28-year-old rapper died from injuries, according to sources who spoke with the LA Times. It is believed that a fight broke out backstage leading up to the stabbing.
Paramedics reported to the venue, where Drakeo the Ruler was set to perform alongside The Isley Brothers, George Clinton, 50 Cent, YG, Ice Cube, and Snoop Dogg, and took an unidentified individual to the hospital in critical condition.
Margaret Stewart, a public information officer for the Los Angeles Fire Department, confirmed the incident to the LA Times, while other sources with direct knowledge of the attack informed that the paper that Drakeo had been stabbed backstage by “a group of people.”
The festival was swiftly canceled as investigators arrived to find out what happened and search for the assailants, who are still missing. An unverified video surfaced online of a bloodied man on the ground backstage that appears to be Drakeo the Ruler, but the footage has yet to be confirmed. Another source claimed that video showed “people running up on stage and security trying to break up a fight.”
Drakeo had well-documented beef with fellow California rapper YG, but it is unlikely that YG’s camp had any involvement in possible motive for the attack. The two appeared to patch things up recently and were both set to perform at the Once Upon a Time in LA Festival before the stabbing.
According to the LA Times, a fight broke out backstage “among several people,” but it is still unknown who stabbed the L.A. rapper. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified. The source close to the brawl told the news outlet that, “Detectives are still trying to figure things out.”
“My condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Drakeo the Ruler,” said Snoop Dogg, who left the venue after hearing news of an attack. “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.”
“Please take care, love one another, and stay safe y’all,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. “I’M PRAYING FOR PEACE IN HIP HOP.”
Snoop Dogg was in his dressing room while the brawl allegedly occurred and was supposed to be performing on stage. A DJ reportedly kept the crowd occupied with over 45 minutes of music past Snoop’s original appearance time before the festival was ultimately cancelled entirely.
“I can definitely see why they wouldn’t want to create a panic by saying somebody got stabbed, but maybe they should have just shut the music off and told people there was a technical issue,” said Troels Trier, 36, a concertgoer from Denmark who flew in to see the festival.
“People were standing literally for hours waiting while a DJ played,” he said, while others recalled rumors of “Drakeo got stabbed,” being passed around the audience without a word from the festival.
“It was kind of like the monkey game,” said Bridget Arias, a photographer working backstage. “Everyone kept repeating a version of what was happening.”
Known for his breakout 2020 mixtape Thank You for Using GTL, the entire project was recorded over the GTL phone service in Los Angeles’ Men’s Central Jail prison complex. Facing life in prison for a murder he was later acquitted of on all charges, Drakeo was released in November 2020. Pitchfork music critic Matthew Ismael Ruiz called the record, “likely the greatest rap album ever recorded from jail,” and placed it on the site’s “50 Best Albums of 2020” year-end list.
His most prominent song to date, “Talk to Me” featuring Drake, was just released this past February.