21 Savage says his lawyers believe he was targeted by ICE for rapping about immigration control

Watch the Atlanta rapper’s Good Morning America interview in full.

February 15, 2019

21 Savage has given his first interview since being arrested and held in an ICE detention center. The rapper sat down with Good Morning America for a conversation which aired Friday morning and can be seen in full above.


The rapper born Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was arrested on February 3 and was accused of overstaying his visa. He was released on bond on February 12.

In the interview Savage says he "didn't even know what a visa was," when asked if he was aware that his U.S. visa had expired. It was revealed after his arrest that the Atlanta rapper was born in London, England and moved to the U.S. age seven. He has remained in the country ever since, bar a month-long period when the family returned to England 14 years ago.

"I was seven when I first came here. And we had left in, like, 2005 'cause my uncle died, my Uncle Foster. So we went back to go to his funeral, and, then, we came back," he explained in the interview. "So that's why I think [ICE] got it confused where they thought, like, that was my first coming."

At one point in the interview Savage says his team believe he was targeted by ICE after rapping about immigration control in a performance of "A Lot" on The Tonight Show. "My lawyers think that," he said of the claim. "I don't know. I can see why people would say that but I can't say."

Asked how he handled being locked up, Savage remained philosophical. "I feel like I done been through so much in my life, like, I learned to embrace the times when I'm down 'cause they always build me up and take me to a new level in life," he said. "So it's like even if I'm sitting in a cell on 23-hour lockdown, in my mind, I know what's gonna come after that. So I'm not happy about it. But I'm accepting of it."

Dina LaPolt, one of the rapper's attorneys, told Good Morning America separately that she thinks the arrest was a way for Trump's administration to send a high-profile message on immigration. "The Trump administration, their policies on immigration have been pretty debilitating. And I think that, you know, they look for ways to make examples of people," she said.

A deportation hearing for 21 Savage is still scheduled. Jay-Z and his label Roc Nation have hired attorney Alex Spiro to assist in the legal proceedings.

21 Savage says his lawyers believe he was targeted by ICE for rapping about immigration control