How Immigration Impacted the Music of 21 Savage
By : Ubong Ekpo
One of the most shocking and bizarre news stories to come out of the Super Bowl weekend was the arrest of rapper 21 Savage by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements) officials.
It was revealed the rapper, born Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was actually an immigrant born in the United Kingdom, who, according to ICE officials, had came to the United States in July 2005 and has been overstaying his visa since it expired in 2006.
Savage states that he came to the United States when he was around seven years old.
The reactions to this development was much of shock, as Savage had previously maintained that he was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, a city whose culture he had ingrained into his music and public persona.
Savage was immediately met with public outpours of support, with many of his celebrity friends voicing concern for his freedom, such as Kendrick Lamar, Sza and collaborator on their Grammy nominated hit ‘Rockstar,” Post Malone. Jay Z also pitched in on Savage’s case, assembling and paying for a star legal team to fight on Savage’s behalf.
Savage was detained just hours prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl 53 which took place in his hometown of Atlanta.
In a recent interview with ABC news, Savage stated that he wasn’t even told the specifics of his arrest. He was simply pulled over and brought into a truck and recalled one agent saying “ we got Savage.”
Much debate has arisen over the controversial arrest, due to the circumstances.
Many question how Savage, a superstar rapper, managed to be an illegal immigrant and still have the opportunity to amass wealth and notoriety all these years without detection.
Although it is very common for immigrants to overstay their visas undetected, not all or any really have the large profile that Savage has amassed.
Savage’s case is so compelling due to the fact that he has had multiple run ins with the law over the years, including a felony drug charge in 2014, which was supposedly expunged from his records.
Some will also point to Savage’s new album, which contained the song “ A lot”, which was a different tone from his previous trap, gangster rap music.
Just days before his arrest, Savage performed the song on “ Late Tonight with Jimmy Fallon” and added new lyrics, where he references the ongoing issue of Flint, Michigan not having a clean water supply.
He also seems to be targeting and criticizing the ICE officials handling of the illegal immigrants detained at the Mexican border.
Pictures and stories of children being separated from their families, locked up in cages and some even dying have grown prevalent under the authority of President Trump.
The newly added song lyrics say “Been through some things so I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border / Flint still need water / People was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”
Savage’s lawyers believe his changing of the song lyrics played a role in his sudden detainment,
His lawyer Alex Spiro, who was provided by Jay Z, stated on Good Morning America to George Stephanopoulos, believed Savage was “used as an example due to his celebrity.”
Savage was released from the ICE detainment center on February 12th, after he was held for nine days.
In his ABC news interview, Savage maintains that he identifies with being from Atlanta. It should be also noted that Savage filed for a U- Visa in 2017.
21 Savage’s arrest put a new spotlight on the issue of immigration. In a time where we’ve seen our government shut down and national emergencies be declared over this issue, it definitely is monumental.
Only time will tell what will happen to 21 Savage. What we do know is the United States, specifically Atlanta, is the only home 21 Savage has truly known for the betterment of the last twenty years.
To deprive him of his status unprovoked only shows the problems within the system.