While many of his fans thought he was always from Atlanta, Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph– better known as rapper 21 Savage– was born in East London. The rapper did not come to the United States until his parents separated, settling at age seven in Atlanta with his mom.
“I think it’s kind of funny he’s from the U.K., and no one knew about it,” said sophomore Aby Hartnett.
Five years later, he visited the U.K. for a month and returned on a temporary visa which expired after one year, and according to ICE, he had been living illegally in America ever since.
“I think that was kind of the scandal no one saw coming,” Hartnett reflected of the rapper’s detainment, which happened earlier this year. “Free 21!” chimed in sophomore Peter Rodopoulos.
As a teenager, Abraham-Joseph dropped out of high school to join a local branch of the wider Bloods gang and became a full-time drug dealer. In that time, two of his best friends were killed, one in a shootout and another in an attempted robbery. But if the title of his last album, “i am > i was,” is any indication, 21 Savage’s performances are more about the present than the tragedies that previously plagued him.
Recently announced as UM’s 2019 homecoming performer, many students were beyond excited to have 21 Savage on campus next month.
“I have not seen 21 Savage in person, but I’ve heard his shows are pretty insane,” says Rodopoulos.
Others were not so thrilled.
“I was disappointed by his performance two years ago at FIU. Although I respect his music, the performance slightly changed my opinion,” said junior Tony Rios. But even Rios, a more apprehensive listener, says he’s “ready to see what he has to offer” and “can’t deny that he enjoys the music itself.”
“They’re bops,” he said. “They’re party beats. [They’re about] turning up.”
According to Hartnett, “turning up” is nothing new for 21 Savage fans.
“One of my friends got arrested at a 21 Savage concert for peeing outside,” he recalled. “She didn’t make it in.”
21 Savage may have something to prove performance wise at this year’s concert, but if there’s one thing UM students are, it is always ready for a good time. So, it should not be difficult for him to deliver.