by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Sunday, February 3, popular rapper, 21 Savage, was arrested and taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the grounds that he is a United Kingdom citizen who overstayed his visa. The rapper’s lawyers are still working to get him released.
21 Savage rose to fame by rapping and making music about his life growing up in East Atlanta. His lyrics tell stories of the prominent drug scene, gang violence, and the deaths of his friends. 21 Savage’s collaboration with producer Metro Boomin on the mixtape Savage Mode allowed him to burst into the rap scene outside of Atlanta. His debut album, Issa Album, followed, which reached #2 on the Billboard Top 200 list. Prior to his arrest by ICE, 21 Savage was one of the biggest rappers in America.
Many were shocked on Feb. 3 to learn of 21 Savage’s arrest, causing influential figures in the U.S. to show their support, including Offset and Cardi B. Georgia State Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia sent a letter to ICE to work towards releasing the rapper. Another, Erica Thomas, also released a statement to show support. 21 Savage’s incarceration also prompted the creation of the hashtag #Free21 on Twitter.
The East Atlanta rapper has proved that he is an influential figure on the rap scene. Last summer he threw a back-to-school drive for children in the neighborhood where he grew up. Johnson was present and showed support for the rapper’s hard work and his charitable contributions towards his community. 21 Savage’s actions have proved that he is a positive influence for the children growing up in East Atlanta.
There are many questions regarding the true impact that 21 Savage has had on his community, specifically regarding the lyrical content of his songs. His most recent album, I Am > I Was, which scored the #1 spot on the Billboard 200, shows a newfound personal growth, as his past albums have primarily focused on the gang activities and crime he experienced growing up.
The new album demonstrates 21 Savage’s personal reflections on the impact that his violent upbringing had on him, as well as the changing relationships he has with the people in his life. I Am > I Was shows that anyone can change their personal circumstances and make something positive and impactful out of their lives.
The sheer volume of people that have come forward to show support for the rapper is a testament to his personal improvement and impact on the rap community, as well as his community in East Atlanta. 21 Savage is one of the most prominent rappers on the Atlanta rap scene whose charitable efforts have led many to believe that his arrest is unjustified.
For the rap community, 21 Savage’s arrest is hard to comprehend. But his arrest has also proven that the community can stick together and support each other when times get tough.