June 26, 2020
Incarcerated without a formal conviction, the LA Rapper used a prison phone to turn his precarious situation into rugged poetry
Phoning it in: how Drakeo the Ruler made an album while in prison
In the varied landscape of rap, Drakeo the Ruler might be a relative unknown, but his story stands out. His new mixtape, Thank You for Using GTL, was recorded entirely from prison using a crackly phone line and a lot of ingenuity. Acquitted of murder in July 2019 but still facing a life sentence after charges for criminal gang conspiracy and shooting from a motor vehicle were refiled against him, Drakeo remains incarcerated without a formal conviction. At a time when the likes of Kim Kardashian and Jay-Z are giving the case for criminal justice reform more legitimacy, Drakeo’s legal woes are emblematic of a system that activists argue is desperate need of repair.
The rapper, born Darrell Caldwell, has been a mainstay in the LA underground since 2015, releasing a slew of mixtapes turning rugged tales of street life into vivid poetry. Despite being in and out of jail since 2017, his hunger to create has never wavered. He and his go-to producer, JoogSZN, took advantage of the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail’s phone service, GTL, to craft their latest opus.
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