In December of 2021, we tragically lost Drakeo the Ruler. We Know the Truth pay tribute to the foreign whip crasher, Mr. Mosley, one of the most innovative LA rappers in the history of the genre, and most importantly, a rapper we all loved who made music that became part of our lives.
Drakeo might not have done the long typing but that’s only because we’re here to hit that wordcount. Support our coverage of one of the West Coast’s greatest talents by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon.
Thomas Hobbs is only seein’ bread, hoping for bankrolls.
I remember reading about Camp Lo wanting to put out a dictionary with their 1997 debut Uptown Saturday Night. It was so that non-Blaxploitation enthusiasts wouldn’t feel confused by the Bronx duo’s colorful coded slang, which was essentially a tornado of niche references to doing the Harlem River Quiver (dancing with the energy of a lively Duke Ellington song from 1927), avoiding Car 54s (the feds), and possessing that Belafonte Vigga (a strength comparable to the late actor Harry Belafonte).
Drakeo The Ruler was the first rap artist I’ve come across since Camp Lo who I can 100% say deserved their own dictionary. Rapping in a muddy drawl through gritted teeth made him sound like a throaty mafia boss whispering deadly instructions into the ear of one of his Capos. He created hood cryptograms, introducing the masses to once-unknown concepts like “Flu Flamming” (breaking and entering), Pippi Longstocking (possessing a gigantic extendo clip on your gun), Uchies (big stacks of cash), and Mudwalking (which – depending on your perspective – was either a reference to getting so high on lean it feels like you’re walking in heavy mud, or forever feeling marked with dirt due to growing up in one of America’s inner city warzones).
For the ignorant, it was easy to dismiss Drakeo the Ruler as a mumble rapper. However, when a visionary storyteller creates a new syntax or lingo that sits outside of mainstream norms, and doesn’t provide easy access for outsiders, it often takes death for the masses to realize just how rare their talent truly was. It was true of James Joyce and it will be true of Drakeo the Ruler, with the pair sharing that innate ability to blend together metaphors, symbols, ambiguities, and overtones that don’t typically align in order to provide genuinely fresh insights into the desires that drive the human condition.
What I love so much about “Let’s Go”, a 2019 Drakeo the Ruler collaboration with 03 Greedo and Bambino that manages to feel both triumphant and haunting, is just how committed the lead artist is to speaking in abstractions. Opening his stream-of-consciousness verse by boasting about being a “nutso, klepto, an acronym”, Drakeo doesn’t seem to care one bit if you understand what he’s talking about. His dense wordplay unravels like a riddle by the Zodiac Killer; what doesn’t make sense at first, only reveals itself to be more twisted as you dig in deeper.
Drakeo is Kingly, comparing his rapping prowess to Picasso paintings and the glitz of his jewelry to a glistening disco ball. Aside from all his Zeus-like confidence, the twisted sense of humor that illuminates all the best Drakeo the Ruler’ verses is apparent on “Let’s Go”. One second, Drakeo eerily predicts how “ni**as wanna take my life”, the next, he jokes about being ready for a lightsaber battle with his “opps”.
What is so impressive about Drakeo’s contribution is how level-headed and calm he sounds despite having to follow an avalanche of hyper-animated emotion and pain from Watts’ outlier 03 Greedo. Sounding like he’s giving a sermon in the middle of the trap, Greedo’s opening 20 bars compare the changing of the seasons to droughts in the drug game, while also reminiscing on how his mom used to pray for her son’s safety in the church’ pews. While Drakeo raps in drowsy intricacies, gliding in and out of the beat, Greedo wears his heart on his sleeve like it’s the new fashion and barks out his life story with an extended verse that seems to be intertwined with producer Fizzle’s ghostly glockenspiel chimes.
Keeping it real has meant Greedo has had to give his daughter gifts from behind a cell, and his admission that he “almost shed a tear” gives a sense of the exhaustion that lies behind a life being passed around the prison system. On this song, Drakeo and Greedo couldn’t sound more different, with one toasting to the strength of his armor and the other pointing out all of its chinks. Yet the fact both artists are so committed to being themselves, and not trying to out-do one another, is exactly why their chemistry is so great. They really just let one another breathe. It’s no secret that Drakeo wanted to make a full length album with 03 Greedo, and when I asked the former why during a phone interview last year, he simply told me: “Greedo let’s me be me and I let him be him. It’s always natural.”
The music video for “Let’s Go” was filmed when Greedo, Drakeo and Bambino were free to spread their wings and drink a fuck load of sizzurp in the presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton, cracking jokes about each other’s enlarged pupils. It captures a rare moment where these LA kings could enjoy the fruits of their labor and had nothing to fear but flames appearing on the toes of their sneakers. That’s the Drakeo the Ruler I’d like to remember: an artist at the peak of his powers, self-sufficient and super comfortable among a close knit circle of outcasts, each wearing Olympic Golds (“Ni**a, pay attention, the olympics, brought my gold medals” spits Drakeo on “Let’s Go”) to remind the world of their hard-won victories.
Even with a target on his back, Drakeo drops a bunch of gags on “Let’s Go”, coming across like the kind of dude who would see his last words as an opportunity to crack a joke (“Spendin’ so much money on my pieces, make a n***a cry”) that made the triggerman feel like a Silly Billy. He is a comic book villain who laughs in the face of disaster, and it is this unflinching spirit that will ensure Drakeo the Ruler is remembered 100 years from now. Or, as Greedo put it better with his own Instagram tribute to the late Drakeo the Ruler: “Drakeo would be in solitary confinement, fighting for his life, yet still laughing out loud when we spoke on the phone. Lol, my boy was a real deal lunatic and a fucking genius.”