Rapper Drakeo the Ruler fatally stabbed at Exposition Park music festival

A West Coast rapper known as Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed in an altercation at a Los Angeles music festival where he and others were scheduled to perform.

A publicist for the rapper, Scott Jawson, confirmed his death on Sunday to the New York Times and Rolling Stone. The artist’s real name was Darrell Caldwell. He was 28.

Drakeo the Ruler was assaulted Saturday night at the Once Upon a Time in LA concert, 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.

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.

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.”

Caldwell pioneered a type of rap called “nervous music,” The New York Times reported.

The Los Angeles native put out his first studio album earlier this year.

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.”

“Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo,” Drake wrote on Instagram.

Music 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 released from jail in November 2020 after LA County prosecutors attempted 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 death.

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