From his famous ex to questions about his nationality, here's everything to know about rapper 21 Savage
After 21 Savage was arrested on Sunday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, many fans were left questioning everything they know about his persona.
The rapper has long been hailed as a local act from Atlanta, but according to multiple reports, ICE claims he is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom and has overstayed his visa.
ICE spokesman Brian Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the 26-year-old, born Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested in a “targeted operation” early on Sunday morning.
Cox reportedly said the rapper is an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” who entered the country legally as a teenager in July 2005 on a visa, which expired the following year.
“In addition to being in violation of federal immigration law, Mr. Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia,” an ICE spokesman said in a statement, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts. ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”
According to CNN reporter Nick Valencia, a spokesman for ICE claimed that the rapper’s “whole public persona is false.”
On Monday, the rapper’s attorney Charles H. Kuck released a statement to PEOPLE, claiming that 21 Savage’s arrest is “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges.” Kuck revealed 21 Savage is currently being held without bond, “despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application with USCIS, and that he has relief from removal available to him.”
Kuck also says “Mr. Abraham-Joseph has never hid his immigration status from the US Government.” He also claims that the “Department of Homeland Security has known his address and his history since his filing for the U-Visa in 2017.”
The rapper’s legal team expounded on his history in an additional statement on Tuesday, confirming 21 Savage was, in fact, born in Britain.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7,” the statement explained.
“He remained in the United States until 2005, when he departed for approximately one month to visit the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005.”
An H-4 visa is issued to immediate family members, spouses or children under the age of 21.
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph 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.”
“Mr. Abraham-Joseph, like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status.”
His lawyers argued that he should be considered a Dreamer, the name used to describe children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents and were offered visas under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.
His legal team went on to argue 21 Savage “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.”
At this time, ICE has not charged 21 Savage with any crimes, Kuck says. From his famous ex to his nominations at the 2019 Grammy Awards, here’s everything to know about 21 Savage.
He has talked extensively about being from Atlanta — despite the fact that he might be British
Though he might be a citizen of the United Kingdom, 21 Savage has long claimed to be from Atlanta.
“We are the real Atlanta, we are really in the street, we are really what the f— Atlanta has going on,” he told XXL in 2015. “The other s— y’all been seeing, some of them really from Atlanta but some ain’t…we bringing back that pain, street real feeling music.”
He has recounted growing up surrounded by drugs and violence, and said he joined a gang as a teenager. In seventh grade, he said during an interview with Hip Hops Revival that he was banned from Atlanta’s DeKalb County School District over a gun possession charge.
He also claims to have been shot six times on his 21st birthday in 2013, and he told Fader in 2016 that he thought he was going to die.
“A whole lot of blood loss,” he said. “A whole lot of blood loss. But I guess they say your adrenaline be rushing. So you don’t really feel it, when it’s going on.”
The tattoo between his eyes is an ode to his brother
Elsewhere in his Fader interview from 2016, 21 Savage said that the dagger tattoo between his eyes is a tribute to his younger brother Quantivayus, whom he said everyone called Tayman. He said the original inspiration was Tony Montana’s blade tattoo in Scarface and that he and his brother originally planned to get the tattoo on their hands.
But according to the publication, Tayman “jumped the gun” and got the tattoo done on his face. After Tayman was reportedly shot and killed in a botched drug deal, Savage decided to do the same with his tattoo.
He gives back to charities (particularly in Atlanta)
During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in March, 21 Savage launched his 21 Savage Bank Account Campaign to help teens achieve financial literacy.
Then in August 2018, 21 Savage hosted his third-annual school supplies drive benefitting students from DeKalb County Schools at a flea market he said he frequented as a teenager, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Giving back to where I grew up means a lot to me. These kids need it and I use to be one of those kids,” he told Billboard. “Being able to see someone from where u from make it and come back and genuine give back will motivate these kids to do the same for their kids and the community.”
Earlier that month, he donated $10,000 to ATL’s Continental Colony Elementary School at the LIFE Community Development Corporation event to enhance efforts surrounding the school system’s childhood education, educational resources on anti-bullying and mental health, and school supplies, according to Billboard.
He dated Amber Rose
“It’s pretty amazing waking up every morning feeling love like this,” she captioned a photo of the two in bed. “I’ve cried endlessly and been hurt a lot in my life, I’ve been abused, talked to like I wasn’t s—, been gaslighted and slut shamed by men that I once loved and cared about. So I’m so thankful that God brought this amazing person in my life who genuinely has my back and is ready to ‘pull up’ to defend my honor by any means.”
During 21 Savage’s radio interview with The Real After Party on Real 92.3 in July 2017, he called Rose a “real cool woman.”
“She treats me like a king, so it is what it is,” he said. “And no disrespect will be tolerated, at all. Keep your mouth closed, no hoes, no bitches, no nothing, ’cause I’m pulling up.”
When asked about the age difference between the two — at the time, Rose was 33 and Savage was 24 — the rapper said he was only younger “in age, not mentally.”
Then in March, a source confirmed to PEOPLE that the pair had called it quits.
“They are definitely off,” the source said. “They are not together.”
After their breakup, 21 Savage said during an interview with Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” that “Amber my dawg. She the coolest ever.”
He had a huge hit with Post Malone
21 Savage and Post Malone have a major hit together, “Rockstar,” which earned them two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards — including one in the record of the year category and another in the best rap/sung performance category. Whether they will win will be revealed during this year’s show which airs on Sunday from Los Angeles.
The track reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming both Post Malone and 21 Savage’s first number-one song.