Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has been arrested by US immigration officials who say he is actually from the UK.
Written by Lindah Nduwumwami on February 5, 2019
The rapper, Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, came to the US in July 2005 aged 12 and failed to leave when his visa expired a year later, officials said. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman said he was in the country illegally and a convicted felon. In previous interviews, Abraham-Joseph has described a childhood in Atlanta. In an interview with Fader magazine in 2016 he said he had first seen a gun at the age of eight – although the article did not specify where this incident had taken place. The 26-year-old is also quoted as saying he was expelled from school in Atlanta aged about 12 or 13 for taking a gun to class. The ICE spokesman said Abraham-Joseph was convicted of drugs charges in 2014 and arrested on Sunday in a “targeted operation”. He clarified that when the rapper was first arrested, ICE was not aware of his immigration status. The UK Foreign Office told BBC News: “Our staff are in contact with the lawyer of a British man following his detention in the USA.” Abraham-Joseph’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt said: “We are working diligently to get Mr Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding.” She said he was a “role model” due to his work on financial literacy programs with underprivileged youth. Having just released a hugely popular album that’s been praised for its introspection, storytelling, and maturity, 21 Savage is at the peak of his career. Atlanta is arguably the centre of hip-hop in the US and, by extension, the world. He’s considered one of the city’s greatest – and Atlanta through and through. The rapper is known in the city as a person who frequently donates to charitable causes. He launched his own campaign promoting financial literacy in children on the Ellen show. His raps have mostly painted pictures of a violent upbringing in Atlanta surrounded by drugs and guns, something which up until now nobody had questioned. But his arrest by ICE and links to the UK have definitely left people in the city confused. A fan in Atlanta told the BBC he was treating the details of Savage 21’s case with scepticism: “I find that very hard to believe that he moved from England on his own to Atlanta.” “He’s an icon for here,” said another fan in the state of Georgia’s capital. “He’s making great music. We’re losing someone big.”