After his release from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia (Feb. 13), 21 Savage talked with The New York Times on his upbringing in London, an immigration battle and the looming reality that one day he would be confronted over his status in the U.S.
“It’s like my worst nightmare,” he said. “That’s why it’s always been trying to get corrected.” Since 2017, Savage filed an application for a U Visa, a document that might take up to a year to be fully processed. Around the age that one is eligible for a driver’s license or a job, Savage said that’s when he noticed his non-legal status in the country could pose a problem as he got older. “It felt impossible,” he said on trying to rectify his situation. “It got to the point where I just learned to live without it. ‘Cause I still ain’t got it, I’m 26, and I’m rich. So, just learned to live without it.”
The “A Lot” rapper also told the publication that it wasn’t the reality of being in a detention center that stressed him, but “it was the possibility of me not being able to live in this country no more that I’ve been living in my whole life. All that just going through your head, like, ‘Damn, I love my house, I ain’t gonna be able to go in my house no more? 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.”
The 26-year-old entertainer added that the situation he faced for nine days could’ve made himself “go crazy” over the unsureness behind one’s fate. “It’s like we gonna put you in jail and we gonna make you fight your case the slowest you can fight it so that you just want to go home,” he said. “Nobody want to sit in jail, especially if they don’t have the money to fight it and they ain’t been to court in three months.” Savage also discussed the memes that circulated once news broke about his detainment, a situation that sparked a rift between Chris Brown and Offset.
"It ain’t about the meme, it’s about the bigger picture. But I done been through way worse things in my life than somebody putting me on a meme," he said. "I been shot — what is a meme? A meme is nothing. That’s something on the internet that I can do like this [turns over phone] and never see again. I look at bullet scars every day, so it’s like, a meme, bro?"
While out on bond, 21 Savage awaits an immigration court hearing that'll add another layer to his case.