21 Savage was arrested yesterday morning (February 3) by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for allegedly being in the United States illegally. Though he’s long been associated with Atlanta, the hip-hop hub that spurred his career and growth, ICE claims that the rapper, whose real name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is actually a U.K. citizen and has overstayed his visa for more than decade.
In a “targeted operation,” a term used by ICE spokesman Bryan Cox in a statement, 21 Savage was arrested along with fellow Atlanta rapper, his cousin Young Nudy, and two other men early Sunday morning. After police officers ran Savage’s name through the system (Young Nudy and the two other individuals were apparently the target of the operation), he was handed over to ICE after the returned information revealed that his visa expired in 2006.
It’s interesting to note that 21 Savage has toured extensively and has yet to hit any public red flags like this before. His recent performance of “A Lot” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon featured changed lyrics that touched on the absurdity of immigration protocols in the country: “Been through some things but I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border / Flint still need water / People was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.” The show aired just last week.
21 Savage amassed a fanbase with his chilling street raps about Atlanta’s harshest neighborhoods, but that wasn’t the only story that he was telling. For the last three years, the rapper has hosted a children’s event called “Issa Back to School Drive” each August. Last March, he announced an educational effort for children’s financial literacy called 21 Savage Bank Account Campaign, named after his debut studio album Issa Album single, “Bank Account.” Last July, he donated $10,000 to fund an anti-bullying campaign to Atlanta’s Continental Colony Elementary School. His new album, I Am > I Was, which dropped in December, preached growth and becoming a better person.