LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles rapper Drakeo the Ruler has died after being stabbed at a star-studded 12-hour concert at Banc of California Stadium at Exposition Park, according to multiple media reports Sunday.
Officials have not confirmed the victim's death or identity, but one of the rapper's representatives confirmed the information with Rolling Stone magazine and the Guardian, and colleagues were posting their shock and condolences on social media.
The California Highway Patrol released the following statement Sunday:
"On Saturday, December 18, 2021, at approximately 8:36 PM, a fight broke out behind the main stage of the Once Upon A Time In LA music festival in Los Angeles. During the altercation, one man was severely injured by a suspect wielding an edged weapon. Officers from the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles Police Department, and Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local area hospital. The case is currently under investigation by the CHP. Any witnesses with information about this incident are asked to contact Southern Division Investigative Services Unit at 323-644-9550."
Drakeo, whose real name was Darrell Caldwell, was taken to a hospital in critical condition, the online magazine HipHopDX said.
He had just turned 28 on Dec. 1.
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."
"Nah man this s--- isn't right for real, wtf are we doing," Drake wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of the two together. "Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo." 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."
The stabbing occurred at the Once Upon a Time in LA Music Festival, which was slated to run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, but was shut down early by police and firefighters, Officer G. Todd of the Los Angeles Police Department's Operations Center said.
Video from the scene on social media showed several people arguing and fighting outside the concert just before the stabbing, but it was unclear what sparked the confrontation.
"There was an altercation in the roadway backstage," a Live Nation spokesperson said in a statement to the Times. "Out of respect for those involved and in coordination with local authorities, artists and organizers (we) decided not to move forward with remaining sets so the festival was ended an hour early."
Artists including Al Green, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, the Isley Brothers and Cypress Hill were scheduled to perform.
Caldwell was a Los Angeles native who has released 10 mixtapes since 2015 and put out his first studio album earlier this year titled "I Am Mr. Mosely."
Critics have cited his unique flow and "oddly expressive, poetic word- choices." The Los Angeles Times called him "the most original West Coast stylist in decades."
He was arrested in 2017 on a murder charge, but was acquitted, NPR reported. He was not released until November 2020, NPR said, because prosecutors argued his lyrics and music videos were proof that his rap group, Stinc Team, was a violent gang and Drakeo was its leader.
The gang conspiracy case was resolved with a plea deal, leading to Caldwell's release.