On Feb. 3, news of 21 Savage being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shocked the world. He was held by the law enforcement agency for 10 days, without any clue as to when he would be released. Now, over a little more than two months since the ordeal, She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph is struggling to fit the shoes of an activist while holding onto the title of an artist.
In his latest interview with Billboard, with commentary from his legal team and manager, 21 opened up about his desire to prevent his privacy from clashing with his passion to help others. “I went from just being regular to my life being in the lens 24/7,” he said. “That’s the difficult part.”
The 26-year-old is content with living behind the scenes, and not necessarily ready to fully disclose his detention but his manager and his fans hope differently.
“As his manager, I would love for him to speak in his lyrics about being detained,” Justin “Meezy” Williams, who co-manages 21 with Kei Henderson, said. “I think eventually it will be in his music, because he’s becoming such a big voice.”
During and following his time with ICE, 21’s entourage increased significantly. The Atlanta-raised rapper was flooded by support from A-list celebrities but he was also surrounded by love and reinforcement by individuals who are now part of his crew.
“I think [21 Savage’s experience] is eye-opening for the music industry,” said crisis manager Holly Bird, who, in addition to immigration lawyer Charles Kuck and associate at LaPolt Law Danielle Price, was brought onto the team by 21’s lawyer Dina LaPolt.
21’s support group includes a bevy of individuals ready to help the “a lot” rapper fight potential deportation, while also bringing awareness to the issues immigrants face in this country. Shining a light on the specific problems that afflict Black immigrants is also an area of interest.
“Much of how we are trained to think about immigration issues in this country is that it’s a Latinx issue,” said Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. “Black immigrants are more likely to be detained and deported than any other immigrant group solely because their blackness. We are living in a country where it becomes double whammy to be both black and undocumented.”
With the help of his legal team and social justice and immigration activists from groups like the UndocuBlack Network and Black Alliance for Immigration, 21’s future looks brighter with each coming day.