Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed backstage at the Once Upon a Time in L.A. Festival in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

The 28-year-old rapper was stabbed with a knife during an altercation that took place around 8:30 p.m. local time, according to TMZ. He was taken to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Following the incident, the remainder of Once Upon a Time in L.A. was canceled, including headlining sets from 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. “There was an altercation in the roadway backstage. Out of respect for those involved and in coordination with local authorities, artists and organizers decided not to move forward with remaining sets so the festival was ended an hour early,” organizers said in a statement.

Drakeo had been scheduled to perform at the festival around the time of the stabbing, and the circumstances that led to the altercation are still unclear.

Hailing from Los Angeles’ Westmont neighborhood, Drakeo the Ruler (real name Darrell Caldwell) made a name for himself due to his unique, deadpan flow and prolific work ethic. Prior to releasing his debut studio album earlier this year, Drakeo had dropped 10 mixtapes, including one while incarcerated.


Released in February of this year, Drakeo’s debut album, The Truth Hurts, included a collaboration with Drake called “Talk to Me.” The song proved to be the highest-charting release of Drakeo’s career, peaking at No. 43 on the Billboard hip-hop songs chart.

In an Instagram Story post reacting to Drakeo’s death, Drake wrote, “Nah man this shit isn’t right for real wtf are we doing. Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo.”

In March 2018, Drakeo was arrested for first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. The prosecutor used the rapper’s lyrics and music videos to brand his rap collective, Stinc Team, as a gang and make a case for a lifetime sentence. He was subsequently acquitted of his murder and attempted murder charges in July 2019. However, the district attorney refiled charges of criminal gang conspiracy and shooting from a motor vehicle in August of that year. Facing life in prison, he accepted a plea deal and was released in November 2020.


In response to Drakeo’s story, two New York State legislators recently put forward legislation that would limit the admissibility of song lyrics as criminal evidence “without clear and convincing proof that there is a literal, factual nexus between the creative expression and the facts of the case.”