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12 questions about 21 Savage

21 Savage

Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has been arrested by immigration officials in America.
Why? Well, it's claimed the 26-year-old isn't an Atlanta rapper but is actually from the UK.
Officials say the US visa of the rapper, whose real name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, expired 13 years ago.
For a lot of people, the arrest has come out of the blue and has raised more questions than answers.

1. Where will I have heard his music?

If you're not one of the 8.8 million people (at time of writing) who watched the video for A Lot, his latest single which is a collaboration with J Cole, in the first 48 hours of it being online, you might know 21 Savage better for his verse on Post Malone's number one single Rockstar.
That feature followed an appearance on Drake's 2016 Sneakin', and has earned him two Grammy nominations at this year's awards.

2. He's had his own music out as well right?

He also has a solo career in his own right. 21 Savage started his career with a crew called Slaughtergang and has gone on to release two solo albums.
The latest, I Am > I Was, features some of the biggest names in the hip hop world including Childish Gambino, Offset from Migos and Travis Scott.

3. Where's his name from?

In 2013, on his 21st birthday, he was shot six times in a drug deal that had gone wrong. His best friend was killed in the shooting.
He also goes by Lil' Man to people who have apparently known him since he was a kid because he was, well, not very tall.

4. What's the confusion?

To lots of people 21 Savage is Atlanta through and through.
He regularly refers to Atlanta in his music and has been a key part of the city's rap scene for years.
But now he's been arrested by immigration officials who say he went to the US in July 2005 and failed to leave when his visa expired a year later.

5. Where was he born?

Playing internet detective throws up a range of answers for this one.
As far as streaming sites are concerned - Spotify has gone for "Atlanta-based", while Apple Music lists his "origin" as Dominica the West Indies.
Searching "Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph" on doesn't give any results. The records closest to his real name on there relate to "Sheyaa Bin Abraham".
Granted, this may not be 21 Savage but the details match his date of birth and suggest he's from Newham in east London.
And Wikipedia has once again proved itself as an ever-changing source. Until this morning it listed him as being born in the UK, but it's now been changed to "matter of dispute".

6. When did he head to the US?

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) he arrived in the US in 2005. They say his visa expired a year later.

7. Has he ever said he's American?

In short, no. In his defence we haven't seen any evidence which suggests so. He's spoken lots about growing up in Atlanta though.

8. How long has be living in Atlanta?

In one interview, he claims he was expelled from Stone Mountain Middle School in Atlanta aged "about 12" for taking a gun to class.
That's the earliest reference he's made directly linked to Atlanta. In that interview he also says he was eight when he first saw a gun but he didn't make it clear where that was.

9. How often has he referred to Atlanta?

His raps have often referred to a violent upbringing in Atlanta surrounded by drugs and guns, so much so that a lot of people have never really felt the need to question where he's from.

10. Why has nobody spotted it before?

American-based think-tank, Center for Migration Studies, claims there are 10.6 million undocumented immigrants live in the US, that's just over 3% of the population.
With no priority system in place, it was always going to take time for potential issues with 21 Savage's paperwork to emerge if there were any.
Although US President Donald Trump has blamed the southern border for illegal immigration, most cases of "undocumented immigrants" are made up of people who overstay their visas - which is what it's claimed the rapper has done.

11. So why now?

A DeKalb County Police Department incident report says the rapper was arrested on Sunday during a traffic stop with another musician, Young Nudy, who is accused of aggravated assault with a gun and gang activity.
Some suggest 21 Savage's lyrics becoming increasingly political and Atlanta hosting the Super Bowl would have brought more attention to him. However, there has been no indication from officials that this is the case.

12. Has he ever left the US since becoming famous?

He's not referred to time spent outside the US in interviews. The only small mention is a conversation a journalist overheard his manager having when Mexico had been confused with New Mexico for an upcoming show.

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