21 Savage: Born In The UK, Made In Atlanta


From his earliest days as a hip-hop artist, 21 Savage has been synonymous with Atlanta. Right from the outset of his debut launch The Slaughter Tape, the younger MC staked his allegiance to his metropolis and the particular undertaking that formed his outlook and life trajectory as a whole:

“VVS diamonds I finished flooded out my wrist, I ain’t talkin bout Toronto after I say I am within the 6”

His music can be suffering from representations of the Eastside Atlanta streets that have been intrinsic to his life, changing into a trademark high quality to his music. While some rappers catch flak for leaving their hoods within the mud, The Slaughter King hasn’t solely relied on lyrics to uplift his metropolis, he is finished so by means of activism and & cents, too.

Besides being one of many main donators behind the ill-fated “Zone 6 Day”- which 21 foresaw as a approach to “present the youngsters that grown individuals can come collectively and do one thing constructive,” he’s additionally spearheaded the “Issa Back To School Drive” for 3 consecutive years as a way of offering backpacks full of college provides, new footwear and free haircuts to the world’s youth. Made attainable by his “Leading by Example” basis, this infrastructure allows younger individuals to entry $1000 to “begin their very own checking account and achieve information in monetary literacy.” Despite actively contributing to his group in significant methods, the lifestyle that he’s been entrenched in since his adolescence is now underneath menace from deportation. Just days after his closing verse on “A Lot,” that critiqued Trump’s border coverage and the mismanagement of the water disaster in Flint, Michigan went viral, the person in any other case often called Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was arrested by ICE on account of an expired VISA.

21 Savage: Born In The UK, Made In Atlanta

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Born within the UK earlier than emigrating to America on the age of seven, the story has dominated mainstream retailers, tabloid information and social media channels, changing into a sizzling button challenge for supporters and detractors alike. Although his contemporaries have banded collectively and proven their solidarity, the response from the music-buying public and sure sections of the hip-hop viewers has been much more divisive. Due to the style’s ingrained preoccupation with realness and authenticity, there was a level of skepticism that’s been forged upon 21 Savage’s credentials as an ATLien. After his origins within the UK have been revealed, many Twitter customers and commenters used the revelation to invalidate all of his Atlanta-centric lyrics and equate it to the renouncement of his cultural id. Labeled as a “fake” by extra reactionary Twitter customers, these feedback echo the rhetoric of ICE itself who’ve claimed that “his complete public persona is fake.”

Spurred on by an limitless cycle of memes that even left Demi Lovato caught within the crossfire, the flippancy over 21’s destiny not solely reveals a disregard for his and his household’s lives however runs the danger of normalizing governmental tyranny. Now that subsects of the hip-hop viewers are condemning 21 to being stateless, it raises the query of why followers of a rebellious and traditionally counter-cultural drive are taking a spokesperson’s decree at face worth. Despite his autobiographical bars on inner-city violence and gang ties, it speaks volumes that Dekalb County, GA congressman Hank Johnson has written a letter in assist of Savage. Addressed to the “Honorable Immigration Judge,” the US consultant has claimed that the rapper “spends his time giving again to the group and supporting and selling the betterment of our youth. He has been an excellent determine inside his household and inside Atlanta.” Based on this testimony, it provides credence to the argument that your house and place you establish with isn’t a start proper, however a product of the influence you make and the place you do it.

Throughout hip-hop historical past, this assertion has rung true for quite a few high-profile stars with out them incurring the claims of being in some way fraudulent or illegitimate. For starters, you’d want solely take a look at one of many style’s perennial greats to see brass-tacks strategy to claiming a metropolis, neighbourhood or nation is limiting at greatest. Born and raised in East Harlem on the epicenter of the Black Panther Movement, Tupac Amaru Shakur might have been born in New York nevertheless it’s the alternative coast that may be integral to his legacy. Even as he was going toe-to-toe with rappers from his place of origin, noone from the Bad Boy camp used his heritage towards him or claimed that it stripped him of his capability to rep California as a complete. Taken from a 1993 interview, Pac summarised the rationale why he recognized himself as a West Coast MC in a means that bleeds immediately into 21’s present predicament:

“When I obtained to Oakland, that’s the place I discovered the sport. So that’s why I give all my like to Oakland. If I’ma declare a metropolis, I’ma declare Oakland.’”

Just just like the pioneer behind “California Love” and “To Live And Die In LA,” Savage’s grownup life and his foray into the rap recreation was knowledgeable by his quick surroundings slightly than his East London birthplace. While 2Pac is perhaps probably the most overt instance, these deviations between rappers’ entry into the world and the cities they champion are rife and even apply to a few of his fellow Atlantans. Heralded as some of the influential ATL artists of the final decade, Gucci Mane was truly born within the Southwestern metropolis of Bessemer, Alabama earlier than uprooting to Georgia in time for the fourth grade. In the identical vein as Guapo, Dirty South trailblazer Ludacris didn’t discover his approach to the ATL from Champaign, Illinois till his highschool years. Just like the person behind “Southern Hospitality” hailed from Chi-Town, Detroit’s most revered mouthpiece, Eminem, didn’t scuff Michigan soil till the age of 12, while West Coast ambassadors Kurupt and Xzibit by no means reached Cali till they have been 16 and 17 respectively.

With every of those rappers aligned with a metropolis that isn’t emblazoned on their start certificates, the one distinction between them and 21 is that their status hasn’t come underneath authorized scrutiny. Although there’s little hip-hop can do except for signal the petitions and voice our assist on-line, what we will help to overturn is that this unfounded notion that he’s a fraud when this adoption of a surrogate metropolis has been prevalent all through the style’s historical past. For 21 Savage, the streets of Zone 6 made him into the person he was, claimed his little brother’s life, and offered him with a household and tales which have peppered his lyrics from the leap. In a case of nurture over nature, Atlanta has grow to be his residence after he spent a lot of his grownup life there. As the memes die down and the severity of his predicament begins to sink in, it could solely be hoped that his 23-hour-long days of lockdown are numbered and he’ll see Dekalb County quickly sufficient.