South Central LA is a separate organism from the rest of Los Angeles County. The residents that live in the neighbourhoods just south of where the 10 and the 5 meet are used to people instantly recognizing the name of their hood. Gangsta rap and South Central are almost synonymous, and the music that is crafted there has a potent and distinctive sound. South LA’s breakout star Drakeo The Ruler is building an empire and has become a titan in the Los Angeles rap scene. Drakeo broke through to the masses when he featured on DJ Mustard's "Mr. Got Dough" in 2014, and has released four mixtapes since then. Born Darrell Caldwell, Drakeo's latest project, Cold Devil, has amassed more than ten million streams on Soundcloud off the strength of the singles "Flu Flamming" and "Big Banc Uchies."

Ron-Ron, a producer and friend of Drakeo, held a show in Downtown Los Angeles on Friday night, and the venue was sold out. Presented by Red Bull Music in collaboration with R Baron group, The Globe Theater was packed to the walls with youth of all ethnicities and gorgeous women of every nationality. The smell of marijuana was heavy in the air, and Ron-Ron hopped on stage with determination in his eyes. His calls of freedom for Drakeo were met with deafening replies. The night was filled with guest appearances from LA artists with whom Ron-Ron, Drakeo, and his Stinc Team members have collaborated with. The crowd was most notably enamored with 03 Greedo, who may have performed his last big show in Los Angeles. Greedo, who collaborated with Drakeo on “Out The Slums,” was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison. With Greedo heading to prison and Drakeo locked up, the heart of South Central hip-hop seems to be missing a beat.

Drakeo’s ascension to the top has been put on hold since he was arrested on a gun possession charge along with other members of his Stinc Team. He is being held on several charges, including first-degree attempted murder and multiple counts of conspiracy to commit murder. The charges come from a case back in 2016. Authorities believe Drakeo plotted to kill RJ, and up and coming rapper from Los Angeles. They claim Drakeo armed two of his friends with weapons and instructed them to murder RJ at a party. RJ never showed up to the party though, and authorities say one of Drakeo's boys killed another man instead, while also wounding others.

Despite the law attempting to sink Drakeo’s career, he was jovial and energetic over the phone. His laugh was infectious and genuine, two characteristics you would hardly expect from a man sitting behind bars. We spoke briefly about his beginnings in rap, his thoughts on being implicated in a murder, and who he’d like to work with right now-- while the L.A. show proved his presence won't be removed from the scene any time soon, his answers here prove he has his pulse on the current rap crop all the while. 

Read more below.

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HotNewHipHop: When did you decide that rap was the path you wanted to take?

Drakeo The Ruler: Probably two or three years before I got outta camp, so like 19, 20.

How did you and producer Ron-Ron link up and how long have you been with your crew?

Mostly, everybody I knew for a long time. Maybe like 2007, 2008, we was all doing crazy shit. I grew up with all of them. Ralphy, that's my little brother, Ketchy.

You pioneered the term “nervous music,” how did you come up with that phrase and the vibe of music it embodies?

That was the only way I could describe the music that I was making, and the things that I was doing and pursuing at the time. Not no more, but at the time, that was the only way I could describe my music. It makes me nervous, when you hear it. If you’re living that lifestyle, you just know.

With so many rappers in the game talking about living the street life, how do you separate yourself as someone who's authentic?

I just let the fans decide. They know, everybody know (laughs). I know who I am, and everybody else should know.

Who were your biggest influences growing up? Now?

Back then, I was listening to Rocko, Lil Wayne, I listened to Young Dro. Cam’ was cool. Right now? Right now, I don’t got no influence, it’s just me. Me, me, me. I’m my biggest influence (laughs).

Who would you like to collab with now?

I fuck with Lil Baby, Gunna, I wanna do some shit with him.

Your slang is reminiscent of Ghostface Killah or E-40, did you adopt that lingo or create it?

I created all this shit, everything I say and all that shit. But that’s how me and the homies talk.

How long did it take to put together your Cold Devil Mixtape, and what is your favorite record on the project?

That shit took me like ten days (laughs). But my favorite track is “Roll Bounce” though. That was around like that last song that I did, so when I did it, I just liked the way I was rapping on it. How I use all my new lingo, and put it all in the verses.

Do you think LA can become the new Atlanta with so much young talent on the verge of a breakthrough?

I think so, people are finally starting to notice us. As long as they got niggas like me (laughs).

You’ve been in and out of lockup during your climb to fame, do you think law enforcement is targeting you? If so, why?

Aw yeah, for sure. I don’t know why they want to target me, I don’t be doing shit (laughs). I’m just tryin’ to rap. I know why they did it this time though. They seen what I was becoming, what I had going on, I was actually on the right track this time. I wasn’t really fucking around. I made a mixtape in ten days, I was really on this rap shit. I guess they saw everything that was going on, they figure, they wanna stop what I got going on. But it’s really not stopping nothin’ it’s making it even better for me (laughs).

Is the ongoing case fueling your creativity? What are you writing about, if you’re writing at all?

Yeah, I’m writing. I’m writing about the same shit I been writing about, my life. Everything I rap about is my life, I don’t fabricate nothing. 

Is there anything specific about your ongoing case now that you’d like to state?

Yeah, I’m not guilty, and I’m coming home soon.