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21 Savage Talks Life Growing Up As An Immigrant

By Chisom Njoku 18 February 2019   |   1:11 pm

Famed rapper 21 Savage sat down for an interview with the New York Times, detailing his time being detained by The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the circumstances that brought him to America and even the memes that popped up after the news of his arrest.

Speaking to Jon Caramanica, the rapper explained what it was like living in the country as an undocumented immigrant and what kept him from getting his status in order.
“It felt impossible,” Savage said of working out his citizenship. “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.”

He said that even with the connections and influence that comes with being a rich and famous rapper, figuring out the immigration system was a nightmare.

“Even if you got money, it ain’t easy. It ain’t no favoritism, and I respect it, I honestly respect it. It would be kind of messed up if they treated rich immigrants better than poor immigrants, I think,” he said.

The rapper said that the worst part of the experience wasn’t being locked up, it was the possibility of being kicked out of the country he thought of as home.

“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,” he said. “If you tell me, ‘I’ll give you 20 million to go stay somewhere you ain’t never stayed,’ I’d rather be broke. I’ll sit in jail to fight to live where I’ve been living my whole life.”

Savage opened up about what it was like coming from London as a child to a lower-class neighborhood in Atlanta, noting how even the poorest homes in the United States are bigger than the average London apartment.

“I come from the poor side of London. My grandma house is real skinny. So when we first moved here, we was living in the hood still, but it was, like, way bigger,” he said. “The toilet size, the bathroom size, it was just different. But I fell in love with it. It’s all I know.”

The Savage Mode rapper said that, even given recent developments, he wouldn’t have wished to have been a full citizen.

“It made me who I am. I wouldn’t write it no other way if I had the choice,” he said. “I still want to go through this right here ’cause it made me who I am, it made me strong.”

And even while locked away, 21 Savage still saw the memes.

“All the big artists was vocal about the situation, so I was appreciative. Even the memes,” he said. “Some of them was funny — I ain’t gonna lie.”

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