21 Savage spoke out about his immigration status for the first time since he was arrested and detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement hours before he was scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl.
“It was definitely targeted,” the rapper, who was born in England but moved to Atlanta at the age of 7, said in an interview with Good Morning America that aired Friday:
Linsey Davis: Walk us through February 3, just a few hours before the Super Bowl was about to take place here, in Atlanta and you get pulled over. What happened?
Savage: I don’t even know. I was just driving and I just seen guns and blue lights. And then I was in the back of a car and I was gone.
Davis: They tell you you’re under arrest?
Savage: No, they didn’t say nothing. [They] said, “We got Savage.”
Savage explained that growing up, he didn’t know how his immigration status would affect him as an adult, but that the threat of deportation held him back from ever talking about it publicly. “I wasn’t hiding it, but it’s like, I didn’t want to get deported. So I’m not finna just come out and be like, ‘Hey, by the way, I wasn’t born here, world,’” he said.
Davis asks Savage if he thinks he was targeted over his song “A Lot” which he performed on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and changed the lyrics in one of the verses to say: “Been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.” As the New Yorker noted, Savage was arrested just days after that performance.
Savage says his lawyers think that, but wasn’t so sure himself: “I would see why people might think that, but I really can’t say.”
If ICE actually did arrested Savage in order to make a very public show of its muscle, it would say a lot about the priorities of the U.S.’s border enforcement machine under this administration. Savage has been in the country for almost 20 years. According to his lawyers, the Department of Homeland Security has known about his legal status since 2017, when Savage applied for a U-visa.