Hip-hop artist Drakeo the Ruler has died after being stabbed on Saturday in an altercation during the Once Upon A Time In L.A. festival at Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park, where he was due to perform just a few hours later. The remainder of the Live Nation-, Snoop Dogg-, and Bobby Dee-presented event was canceled soon after.

According to Los Angeles Fire Department public information officer Margaret Stewart, paramedics responded to a report of a stabbing at the stadium around 8:40 p.m. The stabbing victim, later revealed to be Drakeo the Ruler, was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead early on Sunday, December 19th. He was 28 years old. As of publication time, police had not identified a suspect in the stabbing. The incident came amid a recent spike in apparent gang-related violence in L.A.


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As Snoop Dogg, who was due to perform later that evening, said in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday afternoon, “I’m saddened by the events that took place last night at the Once Upon a Time in LA festival. 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.”

Snoop continued, “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 tragedy. Please take care, love one another and stay safe y’all. IM PRAYING FOR PEACE IN HIP HOP [sic].”

Drakeo the Ruler, real name Darren Caldwell, had been lauded as the “next big thing” in the L.A. hip-hop scene for some time, winning acclaim for subverting typical styles and generating modern slang in his music. “I know how to code everything and I switch it up every time I get bored,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2018. “People think I just make up words, but everything means something.”

He had previously served time in prison and faced criminal charges for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He was later charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with a December 2016 shooting. He was acquitted of the murder charges in 2019, but charges of criminal gang conspiracy and shooting from a motor vehicle, which resulted in a hung jury at the initial trial, were re-filed by a Compton district attorney later that summer.

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While incarcerated, Drakeo the Ruler recorded Thank You for Using GTL using Global Tel Link (GTL)’s Inmate Calling Service. He was released from jail after three years of incarceration in November 2020 after entering into a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

As Drakeo’s attorney John Hamasaki said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, “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.”

This story is developing.