A bright celebration of hip hop goes dark as Once Upon a Time in LA shutters with the untimely death of Drakeo The Ruler

Once Upon a Time in LA
Once Upon a Time in LA – Main Stage | Photo Farah Sosa

Once Upon a Time in LA took place at Banc of California and Exposition Park Saturday, Dec 18.  The festival featured an epic lineup of hip hop, soul, and funk — both modern and legendary throwback style. While Once Upon A Time in LA was proving to be a great time, sadly, the festival ended with a death. Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed at Once Upon A Time in LA.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Drakeo the Ruler had been attacked by a group of people and later died from his injuries (according to a source who requested anonymity to discuss the matter candidly). Drakeo was backstage when an altercation broke out among several people and he was stabbed, according to the source.

Prior to the tragic event, Grimy Goods photographer Farah Sosa was on the scene covering Once Upon Time in LA. Read about her experience below and check out the photo gallery featuring Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, Al Green and more.

Driving to Once Upon A Time in LA was a terrible idea and a waste of time, but once in with rapid Covid testing — the entrance lines and security checks all moved swiftly. Navigating throughout the festival, if you didn’t have special access, it was kinda tricky. Passageways were limited on space, but the people were moving. I saw fights here and there, which is typical of any large event with people having too much to drink. There was nothing out of the ordinary at Once Upon A Time in LA, that is until the altercation backstage that took Drakeo’s life away too soon.

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Once Upon A Time in LA photos

The festival had three different stages. The main stage had the largest numbers, the Lowrider Stage featured nostalgic funk and soul — and the G-Funk Stage had contemporary hip hop artists including Drakeo the Ruler, who was slated to perform. On the main stage, Ice Cube had ended his set with “It was a Good Day,” Al Green came after throwing roses at the crowd and still making everyone melt with “Let’s Stay Together” and Snoop Dogg was supposed to come after, but we were left waiting. The performances had some delays, but nothing as long as this pause. 

Instead, a helicopter started flying over the crowd with their lights on, obviously looking for something. While in the photo pit, there was limited cell phone signal, but once someone got some internet we learned that there was a stabbing at a different stage and later on in the evening, people were saying Drakeo the Ruler was the person stabbed.

Sadly, Drakeo never got the chance to hit the stage. Snoop never came out so I moved to the Low Rider Stage with Parliament-Funkadelic still going strong, and soon after, around 10 p.m., the festival announced it was canceled. There was no audience chaos, people only knew so much and peacefully left the area. The young rising star that was Drakeo was stabbed backstage and did not survive the attack.  

This festival was, for the most part, a celebration in a large open space, welcoming back massive audiences with different backgrounds, sharing a collective love for music. It is shocking and sad that acts of violence concluded the night and that is what will remain in our memories. Rest in peace, Drakeo the Ruler. You will forever be remembered.

Photos and Words: Farah Sosa

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Cypress Hill. Photo by Farah Sosa
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Ice Cube. Photo by Farah Sosa
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Al Green. Photo by Farah Sosa
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