Rapper 21 Savage was arrested on Sunday, when immigration officials claimed that the rapper is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency arrested 21 Savage — whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph — in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to a report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Abraham-Joseph is known for his unique take on the hip hop style "mumble rap," though a spokesman for ICE said that he does not hail from Atlanta as he has always claimed.
ICE Spokesman Brian Cox told reporters that Abraham-Joseph is an "unlawfully present United Kingdom national," who entered the U.S. with a visa in 2005 and has been here illegally since 2006. He added that this was a "targeted operation," implying that the agency knew about Abraham-Joseph's status.
The public, on the other hand, did not. Since he emerged onto the scene in 2015, he has billed himself as an Atlanta native, with lyrics about the city and stylistic similarities to many other local artists. His narrations on local crime seemed accurate, not least of all because he was arrested on felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County. It is unclear whether authorities knew that his alleged immigration status at the time.
Abraham-Joseph even donated school supplies to more than 2,500 students in DeKalb County last fall. The rapper's Wikipedia page currently claims that he was born in Atlanta in 1992.
Cox tells a different story. He said that Abraham-Joseph was been placed in “removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts."
When 21 savage said he’s getting his shooters pic.twitter.com/qp9viLmih7— Cip (@Cipnasty2point0) February 3, 2019
The reaction to this strange news was explosive on social media, though mixed in tone. Many people took to Twitter immediately, joking about Abraham-Joseph's lyrics and putting a mor British twist on some of them. Others were simply incredulous, sharing some of their favorite 21 Savage records, finding it hard to believe that they were inauthentic.
21 savage was trying to tell us this since the beginning pic.twitter.com/YDpJMsBASZ— Lord Gaspy of House Targaryen (@OnFireGaspy) February 3, 2019
A few clips of the rapper acting uncharacteristically refined also surfaced, with users joking that he had fooled the entire nation.0comments
However, many also felt that the case of Abraham-Joseph was indicative of a larger issue in the U.S. immigration system. People on all sides of the political spectrum found it absurd that he was arrested this week — either because they felt it should have happened over a decade ago, or because they felt he had built a life here. Meanwhile, some first-generation immigrants pointed out that this was a reminder of their tenuous footing in America.
first gen americans making 21 deportation jokes like we’re safe pic.twitter.com/4zznT5DrXJ— jaboukie (@jaboukie) February 3, 2019
So far, representatives for 21 Savage have not responded to Sunday's arrest.