21 Savage sat down with The New York Times and opened up about his ICE detention, growing up as an undocumented immigrant and learning of the world’s reaction to his arrest and status.
The 26-year-old Atlanta native was originally born in the U.K. but came to the states at the age of seven. Although Atlanta is all he knew growing up, he still remembers moving from London to Atlanta. “Yeah, everything was like, bigger,” Savage said of Atlanta. I come from the poor side of London. My grandma house is real skinny. So when we first moved here, we was living in the hood still, but it was, like, way bigger. The toilet size, the bathroom size, it was just different. But I fell in love with it. It’s all I know.”
He even said he still had a British accent. “Yeah, I had a accent, ’cause my first day of school they was making fun of me, so I beat somebody up, and they was calling me “taekwondo kid.” “My mama whupped me, she made me stay in the house. So I know I had an accent, but I been here 20 years — I don’t know what happened to it.”
Savage, whose real name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, says his recent tribulations wouldn’t have made him want his citizenship any sooner. “It made me who I am. I wouldn’t write it no other way if I had the choice,” he said. “I still want to go through this right here ’cause it made me who I am, it made me strong.”
When news broke that savage had been detained the world reacted in several ways – comically and in support. “All the big artists was vocal about the situation, so I was appreciative. Even the memes,” he said. “Some of them was funny — I ain’t gonna lie.”