United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly detained rapper 21 Savage on Sunday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
21 Savage, whose name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was born in London. The 26-year-old rapper’s lawyer notes that Abraham-Joseph’s family overstayed a July 2005 visa. The rapper since applied for a U visa.
Abraham-Joseph is the father of three children born in the U.S. and is known in his longtime home of Atlanta for supporting local community projects, such as an annual school supply giveaway at the beginning of the school year. One of his lawyers told the Journal-Constitution, “Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”
But the timing of the arrest strikes many as curious. In late January, 21 Savage appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and performed an alternate version of “A Lot,” the opening track on his 2018 album I Am > I Was. The new version of the lyrics included the lines, “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.” I Am > I Was debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
On Tuesday, an ICE spokesperson told Reuters that Abraham-Joseph faces deportation proceedings in a federal immigration court. ICE has said that Abraham-Joseph was detained due to a 2014 felony drug case.
Since the news broke on Sunday, numerous collaborators and big-name entertainers weighed in, including Cardi B and Jay-Z. Jay-Z told Billboard the arrest of his fellow rapper is “an absolute travesty,” and the hashtag #Free21Savage has been making the rounds as well. On Wednesday, XXL reported that Jay-Z went a step further and through his entertainment company, Roc Nation, his team is offering legal support to Abraham-Joseph.