the law

Drakeo the Ruler to Finally Be Released From Prison Following Contentious Legal Battle

Drakeo is free. Photo: Drakeo The Ruler/YouTube

Following a frustrating and protracted legal battle, fast-rising West Coast rapper Drakeo the Ruler accepted a “sudden” plea deal offered for time served from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office on Monday, and will be released from prison tonight after more than a year behind bars. The 26-year-old was found not guilty of murder and attempted murder in July 2019, but was kept in jail based on two gang-related charges that rested on the bizarre assumption that his rap group, the Stinc Team, constituted a gang. The jury was hung 10-2 and 7-5 for acquittal on the gang-related charges; the DA’s office decided to retry Drakeo for those charges and held him for a year in jail without bail. The surprising plea deal follows the vote-out of L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey, who lost her bid for reelection to George Gascón on Tuesday night. “It’s unquestionable that L.A. voting out Jackie Lacey last night played a major role in the DA’s decision,” reporter Jeff Weiss, who rigorously covered Drakeo’s case and broke the news of his pending release, tweeted. “We have every reason to be cynical, but this was a case where collective action and organization actually paid real-life dividends. The nightmare is over.”

While confined in L.A. County Men’s Central Jail, Drakeo (real name Darrell Caldwell) produced and released the acclaimed album Thank You for Using GTL, hailed by critics as the greatest jailhouse record of all time. The album was recorded entirely over the prison phone system, which in Drakeo’s case was operated by Global Tel Link. GTL is one of many private prison phone-service providers that charge prisoners to use the phone to talk to friends and family. “That’s why I did the tape,” Drakeo told Complex back in June. “If [GTL] going to get money off of me and letting me know my call is recorded, I might as well record a song.” In the same interview, Drakeo spoke about Lacey’s targeting of him and his brother, Ralfy the Plug, who was also arrested on gang-related charges. “There are other prosecutors and all that, but she’s responsible for everything that happened to us, my brother, everybody,” he said. “Now motherfuckers got gang enhancements for nothing. Tagging crews, jerkin crews, whatever. Hopefully, justice ends up coming. She needs to resign.”

Drakeo the Ruler to Finally Be Released From Prison Today