In the recent publication, the 26-year-old artist, who was arrested and detained by ICE agents in February, reveals how his life has changed following his release. Despite having lived in America over half his life, the UK-born rapper, who entered the United States back in 2005 by way of Atlanta, Georgia, is currently in the midst of an ongoing battle to attain citizenship.
In the April issue of Billboard, Savage details the burden of carrying his “illegal secret,” as well as fighting for permanent residency.
“People will be going through a lot of stuff, but you’ll never know what they’re hiding behind their smiles. Like, nobody would ever know that I wasn’t born here.”
He goes on to reveal the worst part of his 10-day experience in immigration detention:
“The worst thing was sitting in there not knowing what was going to happen, or when it’s going to happen. Whenever I went to jail before, it was, ‘You’re being charged with this and going to court on this date.’ But immigration ain’t like that. You’re just being held.”
Despite having two sons and one daughter — all born in the United states — the father of three tells readers that he is braced for a long road ahead, and that being in the public eye has made the journey somewhat “difficult.”
“[I’m] a low-key person who just likes to stay out of the way. I went from just being regular to my life being in the lens 24-7. That’s the difficult part.”
Yet, while Savage may not appear to be doing the most publicly, it’s safe to say he is doing his part to create change on the back end. Billboard boasts about Savage’s reform efforts, dubbing him “A social activist” on their cover:
“He built fame, a menacing mystique — and a family — in the U.S. Now 21 Savage is fighting a possible deportation and struggling with an unlikely new role: social activist.”
The hip hop star is also not fighting the battle alone. The #Free21Savage coalition, led by Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors, is fully behind the rapper’s journey to justice. During his time away, the group rallied other celebrities and organized a petition demanding ICE halt their deportation process.
Khan-Cullors says she hopes their combined efforts will bring some much needed attention on Black immigrants, who are often forgotten in the fight for U.S. citizenship rights.
“Much of how we are trained to think about immigration issues in this country is that it’s a Latinx issue. Black immigrants are more likely to be detained and deported than any other immigrant group solely because of their blackness. We are living in a country where it becomes a double whammy to be both Black and undocumented,” Khan-Cullors said.
In the meantime, 21 Savage has been granted working rights to perform and travel anywhere in the United states. His next stop will be renowned music festivals Lollapalooza and Rolling Loud, as well as his own upcoming tour in the summer. You can check out the latest issue of Billboard, out April 13!