Rapper 21 Savage, born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, told the New York Times in an interview that he will “fight” federal charges that he is unlawfully in the country, describing himself as a representative of “poor black Americans.”
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 21 Savage was brought to the United States from the United Kingdom when he was a child in 2005 and did not leave after his visa expired a year later. He was arrested by ICE in early February and subsequently released on bond.
In its write-up of the interview, the New York Times would not describe 21 Savage as an illegal alien or unlawfully in the country. It characterized 21 Savage as someone “without legal status” and as a person whose “status wasn’t settled.” The New York Times also conflated legal and illegal immigrants in describing 21 Savage as similar to “a lot of other immigrants.”
Despite saying, “I’m 26, and I’m rich,” 21 Savage also said, “I represent poor black Americans and I represent poor immigrant Americans.”
“It made me who I am,” he said of being in the country illegally. “I wouldn’t write it no other way if I had the choice. If they said, ‘Hey, you could start your life over and make yourself a citizen,’ I wouldn’t have never did it. I still want to go through this right here ’cause it made me who I am, it made me strong.”
In describing his desire to stay in the country, the Atlanta rapper did not say a word about American culture or values.
“Damn, I love my house, I ain’t gonna be able to go in my house no more?” asked 21 Savage. “I ain’t gonna be able to go to my favorite restaurant that I been going to for 20 years straight? That’s the most important thing.”
Asked if he would create music about his “experience,” 21 Savage replied, “Not right now, ’cause I feel like me putting it into music got me in this situation, kind of.”
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