Drakeo isn’t a rapper. He is the rapper. That’s what he’s told his lawyer. That’s what he told me over the phone on Saturday. That’s what the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department understands disturbingly well. If you look in his case file, there are copies of the LA Times article that I wrote on him, which prosecutors are planning to use as evidence. They have persistently grilled him about his lyrics, and plan to tell the jury that the album of the year, Cold Devil, is somehow evidence of his guilt, rather than just testament to his cryptic genius.
Upon his arrest, police officers played his videos and peppered him with a battery of criminal and musical questions like the world’s worst DJ Vlad episode. Officially, he’s charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and several counts of conspiracy to commit murder. But the deeper you dig into the case, it appears to reek of a vendetta, a Rap Police-type conspiracy to ensnare the most stylistically innovative rapper to hit the LA streets since Suga Free asked why you were bullshitting.
You can read the full details of the accusations in my previous article about the case. In short, the sentiment of “Fuck the Police” still rings true exactly three decades later. A few things you should know about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and their case against the foreign whip crasher christened Darrell Caldwell. For most of the previous 20 years, the Sheriff’s Department was run by Lee Baca, a Republican ex-Marine, sentenced last year to serve 36 months in federal prison for conspiring to obstruct an FBI investigation into abuses in Los Angeles County jails.
An ACLU report from 2012 concluded that, “the long-standing and pervasive culture of deputy hyper-violence in Los Angeles County jails — a culture apparently condoned at the highest levels — cries out for swift and thorough investigation and intervention by the federal government.” In addition to your run-of-the-mill grotesque deputy brutality, the ACLU said that the abuse included the rape of inmates by police officers.
The lead investigator spearheading the case against Drakeo, Sgt. Richard Biddle happens to be the lead investigator in the Suge Knight case. In 2016, Biddle was accused of planting jailhouse informants in the cell next to Suge and allegedly inducing them create lies to further ensnare Knight.
According to the Huffington Post, Biddle and his partner allegedly directed the informant in question to say that, “Knight intended to be violent and showed no remorse in injuring or taking the victim’s life.” In exchange for these fabrications, the informant, Daniel Timms, claimed that his wife’s nephew would receive a substantially reduced sentence in a murder case in which he faced 70 to life. Court records confirmed that the nephew received a substantially shorter sentence.
Just this week, the LA Times reported on a nefarious “secret society” of LA County sheriff’s deputies, in which all members sported tattoos of skulls with cowboy hats. The Times piece highlighted that “the revelations have ignited concerns among watchdog groups and county officials that a toxic subculture has once again taken hold in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — or was never rooted out.”
In any case, it’s a sinister throwback to the tattoos of the infamously brutal and corrupt CRASH Units of the 80s and 90s, a literal gang within the LAPD ranks, who all had tattoos of skulls with cowboy hats—framed by a “dead man’s hand” of aces and eights.
None of this information necessarily exonerates Drakeo, but it exemplifies the pernicious culture of corruption and the general void of ethics within the sheriff’s department. Besides, the evidence arrayed against him seems particularly flimsy. The prosecution alleges that Drakeo led a conspiracy to kill RJ, but RJ is all over the Internet saying that he doesn’t believe that Drakeo did it.
According to Drakeo’s lawyer, they expect the case against him to hinge on testimony from a jailhouse informant. Of course, jailhouse informants are notoriously unreliable witnesses—especially when the lead detective has a confirmed history of coaxing them to lie to bolster his cases.
The preliminary hearings start tomorrow, Wednesday August 8 at 8:30 on the 10th Floor of the Compton Courthouse. If you’re a fan, Mr. Mosley requests that you attend in a sign of support. If you can’t make it, he requests that books and magazines be sent to the following address:
Darrell Caldwell (5198096)
Terminal Annex PO Box 86164
Los Angeles, CA 90086-0164
Over the last few months, I’ve spoken to Drakeo regularly on the phone. What’s struck me most is the calmness and confidence with which he’s faced this situation. Not once has he ever expressed doubt that he will beat this case, nor has he wavered from his belief that this is a police conspiracy against him. According to his attorneys, the preliminary hearings will last several weeks, after which the judge will most likely set bail. With any luck, the Ruler could be free by Labor Day.
In the meantime, here’s the latest update from the Men’s Central Jail where LA’s best rapper currently resides:
What’s your daily life been like?
Drakeo: It’s straight up, go to school, come back, work out, be on the phone. There ain’t too much to do in here. I listen to the radio sometimes, but my batteries went out so I need to get new ones.
What classes are you taking in school?
Drakeo: Just some bullshit. I took anger management classes, substance abuse classes – shit that I don’t care about it.
Did you ever go to college?
Drakeo: Before I started really rapping, I got enrolled in trade tech school for like two weeks and then I decided that it wasn’t for me. Then I did the “Mr Get Dough” video and that was it. But even before that, it was kinda’ weird. The song was already out and I’d be sitting in class and people would stare at me, and I was like ‘what the fuck are y’all staring at? I don’t want to be here.’
What were you studying?
Drakeo: Fashion design. Some shit like that. I didn’t really want to do that. The P.O was like ‘pick a class.’
Have you been writing songs?
Drakeo: A lot of people have been sending me beats, and I’ll write lyrics to them, but I ain’t finna be recording anything on the jail phone.
Are you in a cell?
Drakeo: I’m in a dorm. I was in a cell when I was first in here.
Does everyone in there know your music?
Drakeo: I got so many motherfuckers who be asking me shit or trying to tell me about my case. ‘You know you whoopty, whoop, you know what they trying to do?” I’m like, ‘how the fuck you trying to tell me about my case. I know what the fuck is happening.” I’d rather be in a dorm. I know a lot of these people. That don’t mean I’m supposed to trust them though. All this shit is trash.
Did you learn anything from those classes?
Drakeo: Hell nah, I ain’t even learning nothing — just how to stay away from people. It just be hella weird. They’ll be like ‘Drakeo this, Drakeo that. The police will come to me like ‘what you still doing in here. Why you back?’ I’ll be like “I don’t know, why don’t you tell me!”
Have they been harassing you?
Drakeo: Not in here. They trying to be cool to me, but in reality they’re police — their job is not to be cool to me.
Are you looking forward to the preliminary hearings?
Drakeo: I’m excited. I just feel like it’s hella’ weird to be sitting here with all these serious ass charges and they have no evidence to put me at the crime scene. They’re trying to say that I gave people some guns, but these are people who already had access to guns. If anything, I would’ve given them my own shit, but I don’t own nothing. It’s more weird that the person that I’m supposed to have a conspiracy against is all on the internet saying that I had nothing to do with it
It just seems like an incredibly weak case.
Drakeo: There’s all types of inconsistencies. Out of nowhere, they came up with the idea that I gave the [alleged shooters] the guns. Meanwhile, [during his arrest in 2016], what about when they took the guns that first time. I wasn’t even in the house when the cops came in, and the person whose name was on the lease was in there. Yet the cops tried to claim that all the guns were mine. My lawyer says he’s confused about all of this. He just told me the same thing: for someone with such serious charges, I have’t seen anything to pin you to the crime. There are no phone calls, no nothing.
What’s Ralfy technically being charged for?
Drakeo: None of their charges even carry a strike. No, it’s it’s a commercial burglary and some fraud. But they’re trying to make it seem like the Stinc Team is a gang. They’re trying to throw a gang enhancement charge against us because of the “Right Decision” video where it has some spray paint on the wall that says “Stinc Team” and “Free Drakeo.”
They got all these random ass pictures of us in the file — it’s fucking nothing. It’s ridiculous. My lawyer is like, ‘why are they trying to show your IG as evidence?’ They have 40,000 next to it, but I got 106,000 followers and you know what’s on my Instagram? Absolutely nothing.
Ralfy is being charged with three fucking bullshit ass burglaries and that bullshit-ass gang enhancement for some spray paint on the wall. They went out of their way to bring up old shit. They’re trying to use two cases where he went to trial and won against him. The bail is only $20,000 or $15,000 but they put holds on three of the cases [to deny him bail], and they’re trying to say that he was an accessory after the fact to murder. It’s only because he’s my brother and they figure that he knew about something.
What about Ketchy?
Drakeo: He don’t got shit neither. He got that bullshit ass gang enhancement. Kellz too. All the charges are bullshit.
How long do they expect the prelims to take?
Drakeo: [The prosecution] is trying to say that it’s gonna last 30 days and then my lawyer was like that’s impossible. The judge says if it lasts that long we’ll do Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then she goes on her break on August 14th — and if its still going on then, we’ll continue when she gets back.
Do you expect to get bail?
Drakeo: Yeah. After they agree on the evidence in the case, then it will go to a motion hearing and I should get bail right then and there. It seems like it’s been taking forever, but it’s finally coming.
Then they set a trial date?
Drakeo: Yup, after they put all the motions in. I should hopefully be able to get my jewelry at the prelims too. After they arrested me, they went down [to my house] and picked up all my jewelry. Then my lawyer asked where it was, and they said that they didn’t have it. That same detective said that he didn’t have it. I was like, ‘all y’all are lying,” and then they finally had to admit that they actually had the jewelry after all.
Do you feel like this is all just motivated by the fact that you’re a popular rapper?
Drakeo: Hell yeah. I play a strong part in this shit. They’re trying to present it like I just rap and that’s what I do. No, I don’t just rap. I am the rapper. I got a strong strong following. A lot of n***s just catch cases and they be like it’s because I rap and their videos have 150 views. I am not them. I got a blue check on IG. I have 106,000 followers. I am not these other rappers.I’m in all the blogs. I’m in the LA Times and [pre-Vichy] LA Weekly. They really be targeting me.
I didn’t get charges until that LA Times article dropped. All of a sudden, they’re arresting me and taking pictures of my tattoos and I see the LA Times article with my face on it at the station. And they’re trying to tell me, “oh, I didn’t see that article.”
They’re trying to say that we’re gangbangers. But we’ve been like you don’t need to gangbang to get noticed or be cool.
What else have they been accusing you of?
Drakeo: That we hate Asians, which is crazy because I love my Asian fans. They’re trying to say that because The Stinc Team logo is a fucking Buddha and a fucking cat. The Buddha is for good luck and the cat is for good business and then it says Stinc Team because that’s our label and our business. The police think they know so much about what we’re doing because they follow us on Instagram and stalk us.
And it doesn’t matter who I rap beef with for two days because that shit doesn’t go far. Skeme disssed me while I was in prison. Did I go out and try to kill him or make a diss song? No, that shit didn’t matter. I don’t know where the fuck they’re getting this shit from? They have the “Big Banc Uchies” video and Adam [No Jumper’s] blog in my case file. Was I pointing guns in those? Was I talking about murder? Hell no, I was just rapping and doing an interview.
Why do you think they hate you?
Drakeo: They mad because I get paid to do this. They think I just started rapping and it was easy. Where were the police at when I was only getting 1,000 views a video. They wasn’t fucking with me then. Now that I just made $70,000 last month, now they’re trying to come at me like I’m such a thief and a bad person [laughs].
They’re mad because I make more than the DA and all them put together, and that’s while I’m sitting in jail. So I just leave that shit alone. They be in there making it seem like they got a slam dunk case, smiling at me. I’m like, ‘shit you can’t use that reverse psychology on me.”
But I’m gonna get out and do 10 mixtapes in three months. I want to do Rolling Loud too.
What do you want to tell your fans?
Drakeo: That I’m not guilty and shit’s looking real real smooth. I should be out really soon. Come to the prelims and you’ll see me sitting there with my Cartier glasses, all white buffs. I be sitting here in jail right now wearing Champion shorts and these Nikes and everyone in here is asking me where I got them from. You’d have to be in here to see it.
What’s the first thing that you’re going to do when you’re out?
Drakeo: Go see my son and then bring him to the studio.
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