The arrest of hip hop artist 21 Savage was not what anyone expected.
The Grammy-nominated Atlanta artist was picked up by ICE agents on Sunday, February 3rd. Not for anything drug related, or for any kind of violent crime (as one might assume from listening to his music, which is riddled with references to dealing drugs and murder). No. Savage was arrested for something far more heinous for an American rapper, something that has both fans and critics up in arms.
21 Savage is apparently British. And he was staying in the US illegally, according to ICE.
Yes, the supposedly American artist, who has publicly talked about growing up in Atlanta, and is regarded as one of the city’s greatest current rappers, is actually a crumpet-stuffing Limey from across the pond. And as if that wasn’t enough of a blow to hip hop, another famous artist is being implicated in this situation as well for allegedly having snitched on 21.
But we’ll get to him in a minute.
First it’s important to understand 21 Savage’s predicament. The artist (whose given name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) was 12 when he moved with his mother to Atlanta, from London, England, after his parents separated. His visa expired the very next year, in 2006 and it was never renewed.
Since then, Savage has been living the life of an illegal immigrant. And he’s gotten away with it, too, despite his high profile career. His music has been explosively popular, he’s been nominated for two Grammy’s, and gained notoriety for donating tens of thousands of dollars to charities. His latest album, I Am > I Was received tons of praise and even debuted as No. 1 on the US billboard 200. Things seemed to be peaking for the 26-year-old hip hop star.
No one would have ever guessed that the rhyme slingin’ street rapper was actually a closeted Teabag.
That’s where Tekashi 6ix9ine comes into all this. 6ix9ine, a scream rapper from Brooklyn, New York recently plead guilty to 9 counts of conspiracy, racketeering, firearm offenses, drug offenses and drug trafficking. He was accused of having trafficked heroine, fentanyl, ecstasy, amphetamines and weed, as well as conspiring to commit murder, robbery and extortion. It’s a hard-core rap sheet, a list of offenses that would make even the Notorious B.I.G. nod with approval.
But whatever street cred his crimes might have invested him with went flying out the window when he made a plea deal with the prosecution. In order to save his own rainbow-stained ass from doing real time, 6ix9ine allegedly snitched on 21 Savage, tipping the Feds off to his status as an illegal immigrant.
Days before his arrest, Savage reacted to 6ix9ine’s bargain plea on his Instagram live feed, “I despise you niggas’….telling on every gotdam body. If you a rat I don't respect you," 21 Savage said in his heavy Atlanta accent. "You are a rodent. I don't respect you in no type way."
(It’s still speculation whether or not he was referring to 6ix9ine when he said that, it’s worth noting. The details are still hazy as of yet, though it is strange that 6ix9ine’s plea deal and 21 Savage’s arrest were so close together.)
Fans online started connecting dots and as they did, accusations started flying over social media like bullets:
69 snitched on 21 savage to reduce his sentence
— (@jesuisjoyy) February 3, 2019
They say 69 snitched on 21 savage. But y’all ain’t hear that from me
— lil duval (@lilduval) February 3, 2019
Even Snoop Dogg weighed in on the situation. “Niggas is bustas’, man,” says snoop, in a video he posted to Instagram. “The era I come from, you couldn't tell on a nigga’.”
21 Savage will, in all likelihood, be deported to the UK once he’s released from ICE custody. The feds will simply pack him up and ship him off over the Atlantic to a country he hasn’t lived in for 14 years. Back to the Queen-land where he’ll probably do just fine.
It’s tough to understand exactly what to come away from this story with. It’s kind of a “Burn After Reading” type situation — a clusterfuck that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
What's certain, though, is 21 Savage’s persona of having grown up surrounded by drugs, weapons and violence is quickly dissolving, peeling back to reveal something vaguely English.
While at the same time, the rainbow-themed punk rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine seems to have ripped off his own meager veil of credibility like a scab, tattle-telling to The Man, throwing a fellow rapper under the prison bus, potentially ruining 21 Savage’s career, just to save his own inked up face.
These are confusing times for the world of hip hop.