By Jasmine Adams
In 21 Savage’s 2017 song Nothin’ New, he raps,“Shit gettin outrageous, treat us like slaves, then they lock us up in cages.” From his debut album, ‘Issa Album’, the song is a brutally honest reflection that flows like an old 2Pac song, addressing the ills and experiences of growing up Black, poor and misguided.
Growth and maturity from an artist is a two-fold situation. On one hand, many fans loathe any deterrence from their favorite artist’s signature style or subject matter. On the other hand, other fans grow with the artist and consider the self-reflection and growth inspiring. This type of positive influence often comes at a price as the agents of this change becomes a target. America is a country where speaking against the status quo and empowering disenfranchised groups of people can be seen as a threat to the overall establishment.
21 Savage’s latest personal and social strides include publicly vowing not to spend money on jewelry with “21 Savage Bank Account”, a financial literacy campaign and documentary geared towards low-income individuals. His march in 2017’s Slut Walk brings awareness to rape culture and the double standards it includes. Then Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) comes into the picture.
According to the ICE.gov what we do section, “ICE’s mission is to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threatens national security and public safety.” ICE, established in 2003, was in alignment with the country’s anti-terrorism panic. ICE, along with The Department of Homeland Security and the 2001 Patriot Act, worked together to tackle so called immigrants who were a threat to national security. Though many of us were young during this time in American history, we have the opportunity to educate ourselves and see that the ‘War on Terror’ was nothing more than an organized attack on Muslims and those believed to be “terrorists” due to their ties to Islam and the Middle East. This rhetoric was based largely on the U.S government’s implications of countries in the Middle East being responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11, along with the demonization of Islam.
Today, under the direction of President Trump and his anti-immigrant talking points and policies, ICE is more dangerous than ever. With over 20,000 law enforcement agents and a $6B budget, ICE carries out unspeakable horrors to families across the country in the name of national security.
Now let’s talk 21 Savage again, or should we say Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the name listed on his supposed birth certificate found by Reuters. On Sunday, February 3, 2018, 21 Savage was arrested by ICE and taken into custody where he remains detained and facing possible deportation. As the news story is developing with strict handling of privacy, facts are scarce. The statement issued by ICE implicated old criminal convictions as well as stating, “ initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the U.S. when his visa expired in July 2006.”
Attorney’s for 21 Savage claim that “ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.” Attorney Charles H. Kuck stated that Mr. Savage applied for a Visa in 2017 and the application is still pending. The suddenness of ICE to determine to detain 21 Savage has come under much speculation, including lyrics from the popular song ‘a lot’. 21 Savage performed this song January 29, 2019, days before his arrest on the Jimmy Fallon Show. One verse in particular speaks on immigration in America: “Been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine, my kids stuck at the border, Flint still need water. Niggas was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.” Some think that this verse may have made him a target to ICE, noting that he has no recent criminal or illegal involvement.