Rapper Drakeo the Ruler died after being stabbed backstage at the Once Upon a Time in L.A. multi-artist concert at the Banc of California Stadium, a rep for the performer has confirmed to Variety.
Superstar Drake, who appeared on a Drakeo the Ruler single earlier this year, was among those posting condolences on social media. “”Nah man this shit isn’t right for real wtf are we doing,” posted Drake, who make a guest appearance on a Drakeo single earlier this year. “Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo.”
Multiple reports cited a backstage brawl occurred at about 8:30 p.m. at the stadium, located in Exposition Park at the site of the former L.A. Sports Arena. A victim later confirmed to be Drakeo — real name: Darrell Caldwell — was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Headliners like Snoop Dogg, YG, the Isley Brothers and 50 Cent had not yet taken the stage at the time of the incident, and the show was called off after the stabbing, although not immediately, as a DJ continued to play as attendees wondered what the seeming delay between sets was about.
“There was an altercation in the roadway backstage,” said a Live Nation spokesperson in a statement. “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.” It directed requests for further information to local authorities; reps for the LAPD did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment, although it tweeted at around 10:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, “There has been an incident at the Once Upon A Time in LA festival at the Banc of California. The festival has concluded early.”
The Once Upon a Time in L.A. concert offered a mixture of hip-hop and classic soul stars on three stages over the course of what would have been an 11-hour show, with Ice Cube, Al Green, the Game, the Delfonics, Cypress Hill and the Chi-Lites among the nearly 60 acts on the bill. Drakeo the Ruler had been scheduled to start his performance on the G-Funk Stage at 8:30, right around the time the backstage violence was reported.
The 28-year-old rapper had been acquitted in felony murder and attempted murder charges in the 2016 killing of a 24-year-old man. He was retried but the case ended with a plea deal and Caldwell was released in November of 2020. He recorded a mixtape, ““Thank You For Using GTL,” which included material recorded over the phone from prison while he was awaiting trial.
Drakeo’s final performance was at the Rolling Loud Festival, held six days earlier in San Bernardino. His most recent effort, “So Cold I Do Em 2,” his fifth full-length release, came out in early December, days after the rapper celebrated his 28th birthday.
Drakeo’s last Instagram post, on the day of the concert, carried a cryptic message that said simply, “Double crossers get crossed out.”
Snoop Dogg, who was a co-promoter of the concert along with Live Nation, posted on social media late Sunday morning, L.A. time. “I’m saddened by the events that took place last night at the Once Upon a Time in LA festival,” he wrote. “My condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Drakeo the Ruler. 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. Last night I was in my dressing room when I was informed about the incident and chose to immediately leave the festival grounds. My prayers go out to everyone affected by the tragedy. Please take care, love one another and stay safe y’all. I’m praying for peace in hip-hop.”
The Once Upon a Time in L.A. social media accounts did not offer any information other than to post at 10:11 p.m. PT, more than an hour and a half after the altercation: “The Once Upon a Time in LA Fest is ending early. All performances are now over. Please head to the closest exit and head eastbound on MLK.”
Drakeo’s attorney, John Hamasaki, spoke of his client’s time in prison before he was released. “We spent the hardest two years together fighting for his freedom, facing life, before walking out a free man just over a year ago,” 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.”
We spent the hardest two years together fighting for his freedom, facing life, before walking out a free man just over a year ago. Through it, we became friends and then like family. I don’t even know how to start processing this. Thanks for the kind messages 💔 https://t.co/A2KoyxqDdZ
— John Hamasaki (@HamasakiLaw) December 19, 2021