Rapper 21 Savage faces missing Sunday’s Grammys, where he is nominated for Record of the Year for “Rockstar,” after he was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). His legal representatives have linked his arrest to lyrics denouncing the family separations at the Mexican border.
In an extended version of his 2018 track “A Lot,” 21 raps: “Went through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border/Flint still need water, n---ers was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”
In a new statement, legal reps for 21, real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, say there is “no legal reason” for his detention, adding, “Many have speculated as to possible ulterior motives for his arrest and detention, including that he released music five days prior to his arrest by ICE, which included new lyrics condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border.”
The statement also confirmed that 21, who was born in 1992, “was born in the United Kingdom.”
The statement added he “arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7” and “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.”
Reuters claims to have uncovered 21’s birth certificate, saying he was born Sheyaa Bin Abraham on Oct. 22, 1992, at Newham Hospital in East London to Kevin Emmons, a sales assistant, and Heather Joseph.
21’s legal team also disputed ICE’s claim that he was “convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia,” saying, “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court. ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.”
21’s arrest has highlighted the conditions in which ICE detainees are routinely kept, with his manager saying he was on 23-hour lockdown.
Meanwhile, Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia posted a letter he sent to the immigration judge overseeing 21 21 Savage’s case, saying: “He spends his time giving back to the community and supporting and promoting the betterment of our youth. He has been an outstanding figure and influence within his family and within Atlanta.”