Rapper 21 Savage opened up to the New York Times about his long-standing immigration issues that landed him in an ICE detention center and the perpetual battle that has lingered over him since he landed in America illegally at age seven.
Born in the UK as Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, Savage explained that while he overstayed his visa, it became problematic trying to get his citizenship status in order.
“It felt impossible,” Savage said. “It got to the point where I just learned to live without it. ’Cause I still ain’t got it, I’m 26, and I’m rich. So, just learned to live without it.”
“Even if you got money, it ain’t easy,” he explained. “It ain’t no favoritism, and I respect it, I honestly respect it. It would be kind of messed up if they treated rich immigrants better than poor immigrants, I think,” he said.
Savage said he feared being kicked out of a place he’s only known as home.
He was likely placed on ICE’s radar after filing for a visa in 2017, TMZ has reported. In the vetting process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did a background check and discovered 21 Savage had come to the United States legally in 2005 with a visa that had expired. He pleaded guilty to felony drug charges in 2013, and his record was expunged last year.
The “I Am > I Was“ rapper rose to become an Atlanta-based rapper, and opened up about his humble beginnings in a poor section of London.
“”I come from the poor side of London. My grandma house is real skinny. So when we first moved here, we was living in the hood still, but it was, like, way bigger,” he said. “The toilet size, the bathroom size, it was just different. But I fell in love with it. It’s all I know.”
Savage hopes he gets to remain in the country saying: “It made me who I am. I wouldn’t write it no other way if I had the choice,” he said. “I still want to go through this right here ’cause it made me who I am, it made me strong.”
Even though he become the butt of some jokes with a plethora of memes floating around the internet, Savage said he’s thankful about it all.
“All the big artists was vocal about the situation, so I was appreciative. Even the memes,” he said. “Some of them was funny — I ain’t gonna lie.”