The Atlanta Immigration Court granted 21 Savage a release on bond Tuesday, according to his lawyers. The rapper was taken into custody nine days ago by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who said he is actually “a United Kingdom national” who overstayed a nonimmigrant visa. The bond will be posted Wednesday.
Lawyers Charles H. Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro spoke with ICE to “both clarify [21 Savage’s] actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society,” they wrote in a statement, adding that he was granted an expedited hearing and “won his freedom.”
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told The Washington Post following the arrest that 21 Savage, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, had entered the country legally in July 2005 but failed to leave under the terms of his visa, which expired a year later. Kuck responded with a statement saying the rapper’s family had overstayed their work visas when he was a minor and that he had never hidden his immigration status from authorities.
The 26-year-old was taken into custody hours before the Super Bowl, which also took place in Atlanta, and days after, he performed at the star-studded Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest. Several rappers — including Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, Vince Staples, Quavo and T.I. — expressed support for 21 Savage on social media. Jay-Z announced Wednesday that he and his company Roc Nation had joined the effort to free him. They hired Spiro, a New York attorney who has represented several other high-profile clients, including Jay-Z himself.
“The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty, his U visa petition has been pending for 4 years,” Jay-Z wrote in a tweeted statement. “In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately. #Free21Savage.”
21 Savage, widely referred to as an Atlanta rapper, is known for his single “Bank Account” and features on Cardi B’s “Bartier Cardi,” Drake’s “Sneakin’ ” and Post Malone’s “Rockstar.” He released an extended version of his song “A Lot,” in which he raps about family separation at the border, days before his arrest.
The rapper earned two Grammy nominations for “Rockstar” and had been slated to perform at Sunday’s ceremony, where a few other artists drew attention to his absence. Malone wore a black T-shirt with “21 SAVAGE” written across the chest. Music producer Ludwig Göransson said the rapper “should be here right now” while accepting record of the year for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” which features ad-libs by 21 Savage. And best new artist Dua Lipa called the arrest “quite upsetting” in a backstage interview.
In the Tuesday statement, 21 Savage’s lawyer relayed a message from him to his fans: “He says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together.”
They concluded, “He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”