21 Savage has been in the spotlight since 2015, so why is ICE detaining the Zone 6 rapper now?


On Feb. 3, WSB-TV, one of Metro Atlanta’s news outlets, tweeted Atlanta rapper 21 Savage had been arrested the previous night by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The allegations reported 21 Savage, real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, who was originally born in the U.K., was in the U.S. on an overstayed visa.

Rapper Young Nudy, 21’s cousin, was also arrested. TMZ gathered three different police reports from that night. Allegedly, someone from Savage’s team had a loaded gun in possession. However, ICE made several false claims in the arrest stating that 21 Savage was a wanted felon, and making other false claims about his legal residency. It has since been reported that all the arrests that night were for Abraham-Joseph, who is still detained by ICE.  

When the reports and tweets about this story first surfaced, I, like a lot of other fans, was shocked and confused about the news. If you follow 21 Savage, it may come as a big surprise because the rapper represents his hometown of East Atlanta so heavily.

Being from the  “Zone 6” was, and still is, a part of Savage’s music and lifestyle. The “No Heart” rapper has never mentioned being from anywhere but Atlanta in the limited interviews he has done. Nor has there been any indication of Savage spending time in the U.K. As time passed, I still felt that the detainment of the rapper was very peculiar.

21 Savage has been popular since his SoundCloud days in 2015. He really made a name for himself when he was on the 2016 XXL Freshman List, which is great recognition for up and coming artists. So it begged the question: Why is ICE just coming after 21 Savage now?

This is also not his first run-in with the law, so many people on social media wondered why ICE or other law enforcement didn’t detain him then. It is just odd to me that just days after he  dropped the music video for his song “A Lot,” which features rapper J. Cole, Abraham-Joseph was detained.  A new verse in the song says “Went through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border (Straight up),” which makes me think this arrest and detainment were no coincidence.

A lot of what ICE does can be detrimental to families. Breaking up families throughout America and causing children to live with no parental support is not how this country gets better. 21 Savage’s lawyer said he has been held in a cell for about 22-23 hours a day with no phone, little food and water, no internet or communication outside of a one-hour time period given for calls and discussions with his lawyer and legal team. In the “a lot” music video it depicts how 21 Savage is able to be the provider for his family, friends and kids.

Day by day, as the story progresses, I am more shocked at what’s going on. It is just unfortunate that a young black man like Savage has been improving his life and bettering those around him. The rapper came here legally on a Visa and it is just unfortunate that he is now being threatened to take away everything from him.  21 Savage’s co-manager released a statement that included the details of his legal residency:

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7. He remained in the United States until 2005, when he departed for approximately one month to visit the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal status expired through no fault of his own,” read the statement.

It isn’t the end of the world, and the hip-hop community is doing everything they can to help the rapper. Reports arose that Jay-Z and Roc Nation have hired their lawyers to assist in the arrangement of 21 becoming free and getting his U Visa approved, which has been pending for four years. Roc Nation’s Instagram showed that a person only charged with “visa overstay” is eligible for bond.

Since he is a performer and notable celebrity in the U.S., Abraham-Joseph could be granted citizenship. Many artists like Cardi B, Quavo and Post Malone have all posted and or tweeted their support for him. There will be ongoing updates and statements released in the coming weeks no doubt, but there is no solid timetable on when 21 Savage’s return could happen. Aside from all the memes that came out and the social media beefs that started between celebrities, this situation could spark a greater conversation and shed light on what ICE is doing to countless other families across the country.