The Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage has been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE officials say 21 Savage, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph and is actually a U.K. citizen, overstayed his visa and now faces deportation. Since scoring his first No. 1 on the Billboard charts with his album, “I am greater than I was”, 21 Savage has been a hip-hop phenom ripping off hits like Rockstar, Bank Account, Bartier Cardi and X.
The arrest was shocking news to many of his fans who assumed the rapper was from Atlanta. 21 Savage often talked about his tough childhood growing up in the city’s Eastside. Many in the hip-hop industry believed he was a local act, and 21 Savage has spoken very little about his UK background. As it turns out, he was a U.K. national who came to the U.S. as a child, and has since overstayed his visa, according to federal officials.
He was taken into custody Sunday morning during a “targeted operation” in metro Atlanta, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said (originally reported by the AP).
As 21 Savage, he had a “commitment to telling the stories of life in Atlanta’s Zone 6,” Billboard wrote last month, referring to the Eastside of Atlanta. “The East Atlanta rapper has been repping the neighborhood he grew up in, and rapping about the violence and pain that he’s encountered (and inflicted) since he first stepped into a recording booth.” Sha has said the “21” in his name refers to a street gang in Decatur, CNN reported. At the time of his arrest, his Wikipedia page had said he was born in Atlanta in 1992, according to The Washington Post.
The news of 21 Savage’s true nationality has caused a bit of a ruckus online. A commenter on reddit mused “how man savages is he in metric?” “The whole world feels wrong right now and somebody gotta do some basic conversions for me. God help us if Outkast also turns out to not be from Atlanta next.”