Criminal Justice

Rapper who called attention to high-billing prison phone service is killed at music festival

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AP Drakeo the Ruler

Rapper Drakeo the Ruler in West Hollywood, California, on July 2. Photo by Walik Goshorn/MediaPunch/IPX via the Associated Press.

The rapper who recorded a mixtape over a high-billing prison phone service was fatally stabbed backstage at a music festival Saturday.

Drakeo the Ruler was killed after a fight broke out at the Once Upon a Time in LA festival, report CNN, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Prosecutors had tried to use Drakeo’s rap lyrics against him. He was acquitted of murder in 2019 and then charged with gang conspiracy; prosecutors claimed that his rap collective was a street gang, according to the Los Angeles Times. Drakeo reached a plea deal and was released from prison in November of last year.

While at the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail, Drakeo recorded a mixtape using the prison phone system. At the end of each song, a computer-generated woman’s voice can be heard saying, “Thank you for using GTL.” GTL refers to prison communications company Global Tel Link, and “Thank You for Using GTL” became the name for the mixtape.

Drakeo’s producer, producer, JoogSZN, told the ABA Journal in December 2020 that GTL was billing Drakeo about 25 cents per minute for the nearly 2,000 minutes that it took to make the tape. JoogSZN said he appreciates that press attention from the recording shined a spotlight on the justice system and the billing practices of GTL.

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