Rapper 21 Savage believes he was targeted by authorities over detainment
The British-born musician has described his days in an immigration detention centre.
Rapper 21 Savage has said he believes he was targeted by authorities as he spoke out for the first time since being released from detainment by US Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Atlanta-based musician was released from detention on a 100,000 US dollar bond (£78,086) on Wednesday in the lead-up to his deportation hearing.
He has also said he is still concerned he may be forced to leave the country.
The British-born star – real name She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph – had been due to perform at the Grammys on Sunday night, where he was nominated for two awards, but he had been held by ICE for allegedly overstaying his visa after moving to the US as a child.
"They said 'We got Savage'" @21Savage tells @LinseyDavis he believes his arrest was targeted when he was pulled over in Atlanta says before the Super Bowl. https://t.co/8XGtNj5gS2 pic.twitter.com/yKREn5GyQ7— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2019
He had been held at an immigration detention centre in south Georgia since Sunday February 3.
Speaking to US TV show Good Morning America (GMA) for the first time since being released, 21 Savage recalled his memories of being caught.
He said: “I was just driving and I was seeing guns and blue lights. And I was in the back of a car and I was gone.
“They didn’t say nothing, they just said ‘we got Savage’.”
He added: “It was definitely targeted.”
ICE said the 26-year-old is a British national who moved to the States at the age of 12 in 2005 and went on to overstay his visa, which expired in 2006.
The rapper, who said he was “seven when I first came here”, told GMA that he “didn’t know what a visa was”.
“I knew I wasn’t born here, but I didn’t know what that meant as far as when I transitioned into an adult, how it was going to affect my life,” he added.
“I wasn’t hiding it, but I didn’t want to get deported, so I’m not going to come out like, ‘by the way I wasn’t born here’.”
Responding to the suggestion that he was targeted because of his recently-released song A Lot, in which he appears to rap about US immigration policy, the musician said: “My lawyers think that. I don’t really know, I can’t really say.
“I would see why people would think that, but I really can’t say.”
He said: “I’ve been here for 20 years, 19 years – this is all I know.
“I don’t feel like you should be arrested and put in a place where a murderer would be, just for being in the country too long.”
Of his experiences in the detention centre, he said he was in “one room all day” by himself.
He said he is still concerned he might still be kicked out of the country, and added: “But I feel like I’ve been through so much in my life, I’ve learned to embrace the times when I’m down, because they always build me up.”
"I've been here 20 years. This is all I know." @21Savage says he doesn't believe people should be placed in jail for being in the country too long. Now, he says he wants to bring awareness to immigration policies and the "pain" they are causing people. pic.twitter.com/apstaY2RZI— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2019
He said his three young children “started jumping me” when they saw him for the first time since his release.
21 Savage’s lawyers say his legal immigrant status expired in 2006 “through no fault of his own” and he should be eligible to fight his removal from the country in court.
The U visa he has applied for is for victims of crime, after his lawyers said he survived a shooting in 2013.
The rapper, who was convicted on felony drug charges in 2014, is known for his hit Rockstar with fellow rapper Post Malone, for which he was nominated for two Grammys.
He released his latest album I Am > I Was in December, and it reached 33 in the UK albums chart and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200.
He has collaborated with the likes of Drake, Cardi B, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, and was previously in a relationship with model and actress Amber Rose.