Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage, who has long been presumed to be an Atlanta-native, has been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The agency says he is actually a U.K. citizen who overstayed his visa and that he now faces deportation.
The arrest has taken fans by surprise, who assumed 21 Savage, real name Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was a US citizen as he often spoke about his rough childhood in Atlanta city’s Eastside.
When 21 Savage talks about the Police…these are the Cops he is talking about. pic.twitter.com/IGOelcVird
— Gary Davis (@garydaviswisdom) February 4, 2019
Immigration: Where were you born?
21 Savage: pic.twitter.com/lejEwlvBOA
— CARTER* (@Carter_tyg) February 4, 2019
Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that 26-year-old Abraham-Joseph has “long been considered a local act.”
Savage hit the rap scene in 2015, quickly rising to success which accumulated in December, when he scored his first No. 1 on the Billboard charts with I am greater than I was, his latest album.
Federal officials now say that Abraham-Joseph was a U.K. national who moved to the U.S. as a child but then overstayed his visa.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told the Associated Press that the rapper had been taken into custody on Sunday morning during a “targeted operation” in Atlanta.
13-year-old Abraham-Joseph legally entered the U.S. in July 2005, but remained in the country after his visa expired a year later, Cox reported to AP.
The ICE official went on to explain that while the rapper was convicted of felony drug charges in 2014, ICE was not aware of his immigration status at the time.
Abraham-Joseph’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, told the AP that she is working towards his release, describing her client as a role model to young people.
Just last month, Billboard wrote that 21 Savage had a “commitment to telling the stories of life in Atlanta’s Zone 6 … The East Atlanta rapper has been repping the neighbourhood 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.”
Abraham-Joseph has previously said that the “21” in his stage name is a reference to a street gang in Decatur.
At the time of his arrest, Savage 21’s Wikipedia page stated that he was born in Atlanta in 1992.
Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP