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21 Savage

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21 Savage
21 Savage 2018.jpg
21 Savage performing in Austin, Texas, in June 2018
Born
Shéyaa Bin Abraham[1]

(1992-10-22) October 22, 1992 (age 26)
Occupation
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active2014–present
Musical career
OriginDeKalb County, Georgia
Genres
InstrumentsVocals
Labels
Associated acts
Website21savage.com

Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph[6][7][8] (born October 22, 1992), known professionally as 21 Savage, is a British rapper, songwriter and record producer based in Atlanta, Georgia.[9] He became known in Atlanta for the 2015 mixtape The Slaughter Tape before attaining nationwide attention following an extended play collaboration Savage Mode (2016) with the producer Metro Boomin and its lead singles "X" and "No Heart", as well as his guest feature on the 2016 Drake single "Sneakin'".[10]

21 Savage released his debut studio album, Issa Album, on July 7, 2017.[11] It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and gave him his first Billboard Hot 100 top 20 song, "Bank Account". His first number one single came at the end of 2017 with his feature on Post Malone's "Rockstar", which was nominated in two categories at the 61st Grammy Awards.[12][13] On October 31, 2017, he released the Offset and Metro Boomin collaboration Without Warning. In December 2018, he released his second album, I Am > I Was, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and stayed at number one for two consecutive weeks.[14]

On February 3, 2019, 21 Savage was arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officials of which stated that he is a citizen of the United Kingdom who entered the U.S. in July 2005 and then unlawfully overstayed his visa when it expired in July 2006.[15] He was granted bond on February 12 and released the next day, pending the outcome of an expedited deportation hearing scheduled for April 11.[16]

Early life

21 Savage was born as Shéyaa Bin Abraham on October 22, 1992, at Newham Hospital in Plaistow, London, England, to British-born parents Heather Carmillia Joseph and Kevin Cornelius Emmons,[1][2] who are of Dominican and Haitian extraction.[17][18] His twin sisters, dance choreographers Kyra and Jayda Davis, and father continue to live in London, with Emmons working for Westminster City Council. Abraham-Joseph's grandmother lives in Brixton.[19] Abraham-Joseph's parents separated early in his life, and he moved with his mother to Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 7.[20][21][22] In June 2005, at the age of 12, he went to the United Kingdom for the funeral of an uncle,[23] stayed for a month and then returned to the United States on July 22, 2005, on an H-4 visa,[24] which allegedly expired a year later (and Abraham-Joseph's attorneys have acknowledged that he and his family overstayed their visas).[15][25][26] Abraham-Joseph's mother then began a relationship with Dr. Amsu Anpu, an endocrinologist and British expatriate, with whom she had more children.[27] He had a brother Quantivayus ("Tay-Man") who died in a shooting after an attempted drug deal.[28]

In the seventh grade, Abraham-Joseph was banned permanently from every school in DeKalb County School District for gun possession.[29] This led him to begin attending schools around the Atlanta metropolitan area before being sent to a youth detention center.[30] After being released from the youth detention center, he completed eighth grade through an alternative program before finishing a semester of high school; he dropped out in his freshman year following multiple exclusions that he said "exhausted" him.[31]

After dropping out, Abraham-Joseph joined a local street gang affiliated with the wider Bloods street gang[10] and became a full-time drug dealer, mainly selling cannabis.[31] He also regularly took part in other criminal activities including robbery and car theft, although he was only arrested once after contraband was found in a car he was driving.[32] In 2011, when Abraham-Joseph was 19, he lost his "right hand" man, Larry, in a shootout.[31] In 2013, during an attempted robbery on his 21st birthday, Abraham-Joseph was shot six times by rival gang members and his best friend Johnny was killed.[33]

Career

2014–15: Early releases

Following the death of his friend in a shootout on his 21st birthday, Abraham-Joseph began rapping.[32][34] His music career was originally subsidized by his deceased friend's uncle, who gave him money for studio time in 2013.[10] On November 12, 2014, 21 Savage's debut single, "Picky", produced by DJ Plugg, was released. It was later included on his debut mixtape, The Slaughter Tape, which was released on May 25, 2015.[35] The release made him what Interview Magazine called an "underground hero in Atlanta".[10]

On July 2, 2015, 21 Savage released a collaborative EP, Free Guwop, with Sonny Digital.[36] It is a tribute EP to fellow rapper and influence Gucci Mane. On December 1, 2015, 21 Savage released his second mixtape, Slaughter King.[37]

2016–17: Savage Mode, Issa Album, and Without Warning

In June 2016, 21 Savage was named as one of the "Freshman Class" of 2016 by XXL.[38] On July 15, 2016, 21 Savage released his joint EP Savage Mode with Atlanta-based record producer Metro Boomin. The EP gained international success and peaked at number 23 on the Billboard 200, which became their highest charting EP to date.[39] He was on the cover of Fader.[40] His single "X" featuring Future on the EP was confirmed by Billboard as going platinum in the US, being 21's 1st platinum record.[41] On January 18, 2017, 21 Savage announced that he had signed to Epic Records.[42]

In 2017, his debut studio album, Issa Album, debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200.[43][44] Its lead single, "Bank Account", peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.[45][46] Later that year, he was featured on Post Malone's single "Rockstar", which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and broke numerous records. It's 21 Savage's first number 1 song.[13][47][48][49]

On October 31, 2017, a collaborative studio album by 21 Savage, Offset, and Metro Boomin named Without Warning was released. Without Warning debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200[50] and received generally positive reviews from critics. Its lead single, "Ric Flair Drip" peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.[51][52]

2018–present: I Am > I Was

21 Savage in June 2018

In April 2018, 21 Savage had a guest appearance on Young Thug's extended play Hear No Evil along with fellow rappers Nicki Minaj and Lil Uzi Vert.[53] Later that month, he also appeared on the single "Outstanding" by SahBabii.[54] On March 21, 2018, he was featured on the single "Rover 2.0", which is part of BlocBoy JB's Simi mixtape.[55][56] In the following month, he was featured on Ty Dolla Sign's "Clout", which was part of the deluxe edition of his album Beach House 3.[57]

On October 31, 2018, 21 Savage posted on his Instagram a picture of a man in silhouette jumping in the air in the direction away from a large blaze. In the bottom right corner of the picture there is a "Parental Advisory" notice, as there oftentimes is on the cover of rap releases. 21 Savage also tagged Metro Boomin in the post. For these reasons, some speculated it to be a sequel to 2017's Without Warning album. However, it turned out to be the cover for Metro's debut solo album, Not All Heroes Wear Capes.[58]

On December 6, 2018, 21 Savage posted cover art for upcoming album, I Am > I Was, on Instagram, which features a blurred out image of himself, captioning the image with a number of goat emojis.[59] The next day, 21 Savage took to Twitter and his Instagram story to apologize that he "forgot" to release the album, saying on Twitter: "Dam I forgot to drop my album my bad y'all".[60] He announced a new date of December 21, 2018.[61] The track-list was leaked by record producer Louis Bell via his Instagram story on December 13, 2018.[62][63]

21 Savage released his second studio album I Am > I Was on December 21, 2018, with features from Travis Scott, Post Malone, Childish Gambino, Offset, J. Cole, Gunna, Lil Baby, Project Pat, and Schoolboy Q.[64][65] None of those acts, however, are credited as artists on the album. I Am > I Was debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 earning 131,000 album-equivalent units (including 18,000 pure album sales), making it 21 Savage's first U.S number one album.[66][67] It was led by "A Lot", featuring vocals from J. Cole. It peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard 100.[68]

Musical style

Called "one of the last street niggas left making music" by frequent collaborator Metro Boomin,[69] 21 Savage's music is heavily autobiographic with an emphasis on violent and criminal aspects of his past, including murder and drug dealing.[32]

Controversies

In 2018, 21 Savage reportedly started a movement called "Guns Down, Paintballs Up" which was intended to reduce gun violence by suggesting the use of paintball guns instead of lethal firarms.[70] The head of the Detroit Police Department, James Craig, described the movement as "well-intentioned, however, misguided", after several incidents involving paintball guns later resulted in injuries, disorderly conduct involving large groups of people with paintball guns, property vandalism (e.g., of police vehicles), violent reprisals, and the mistaking of paintball guns for firearms.[71][72] The movement has been linked to several cases of property crime and homicide.[70][73] 21 Savage has not commented on the matter, although he paid for the funeral of a 3-year-old who was killed in a related incident.[70][73]

Controversy arose after Abraham-Joseph pulled out a firearm during a pool party on June 11, 2018.[74] Abraham-Joseph had been given the firearm by a friend after seeing an opposing crew member also pull out a pistol.[75]

"ASMR", a song from 21 Savage's second studio album I Am > I Was, caused some controversy with its lyrics. The lyrics included "We been gettin' that Jewish money, everything is kosher." The lyrics came under fire for perpetuating negative Jewish stereotypes when LeBron James shared an Instagram story quoting "ASMR".[76] Abraham-Joseph later apologized, saying on Twitter that "The Jewish people I know are very wise with there [sic] money so that's why I said we been gettin' Jewish money. I never thought anyone would take offense, I'm sorry if I offended everybody, never my intention – I love all people."[77]

Personal life

Abraham-Joseph practices the traditional African religion Ifá along with his mother.[78][79][80] In the summer of 2017, Savage started dating model Amber Rose.[81][82] As of May 2018, the couple had separated.[83]

He has three children; two sons and one daughter. He rarely talks about them, but had posted pictures of them on his Instagram.[84][85]

Legal issues

Drug conviction in 2014

Abraham-Joseph was convicted of felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia.[86]

Arrest on immigration charges in 2019

On February 3, 2019, just two days after releasing the music video for his single "A Lot", Abraham-Joseph was taken into custody by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a vehicle was pulled over that contained him and his cousin, the rapper known as Young Nudy, and two other men.[87] Young Nudy and the two other men had been targeted in an operation involving charges of aggravated assault and violation of the Georgia Gang Act.[87] Abraham-Joseph later alleged that he was personally also targeted in the operation.[20] After his arrest, ICE revealed that Abraham-Joseph is a British national who has been in the United States unlawfully since his non-immigrant visa expired in July 2006. Before this, Abraham-Joseph had commonly been believed to be a native of the Atlanta area – e.g., Interview magazine had reported in an interview with Seth Rogen in April 2018 that the rapper's birthplace was Atlanta, Georgia, and in a 2016 interview with XXL Magazine, he said he was "from Decatur, Georgia" (which is in the Atlanta metropolitan area).[88][89][90][25]

A spokesperson for ICE said of Abraham-Joseph, "His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa."[91] A birth certificate then surfaced showing that Abraham-Joseph was born in Newham, London, on October 22, 1992.[1][92] This indicates that he had been 12 years old in July 2005 – not "a teen" (and he had also been in the U.S. from the age of 7 until his one-month departure in 2005).[20] His attorney acknowledged that Abraham-Joseph had overstayed the expired visa, but said that he had not attempted to hide his background, and said that the Department of Homeland Security had been aware that in 2017 he had applied for a U visa – a type of non-immigrant visa offered to crime victims and their family members who are willing to assist law enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.[26]

Theft by deception charges in 2019

On February 15, 2019, Abraham-Joseph turned himself in to authorities and was booked into a south Georgia jail in response to a warrant for his arrest for felony theft by deception. This dispute surrounds a gig arranged in 2016 for which the rapper allegedly accepted a payment of $17,000 to appear at a concert, but did not appear and did not give back the money. He was released on his own recognizance, pending a court hearing on a later date to resolve the charge.[93][94]

Philanthropy

In March 2018, Abraham-Joseph announced the creation of the 21 Savage Bank Account Campaign (named after his hit song "Bank Account") on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he also announced that he was donating $21,000 to the cause. Abraham-Joseph said "I started the 21 Savage Bank Account Campaign and its to help kids learn how to save money and make money, and open bank accounts for kids."[95] In early August of 2016, 2017, and 2018, Abraham-Joseph hosted the "Issa Back to School Drive" (named after his album Issa Album) in his home neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia. The drive gave free haircuts, hairstyles, supplies, and school uniforms. In July 2018, Abraham-Joseph donated $10,000 to Atlanta's Continental Colony Elementary School to fund an anti-bullying campaign.[96]

Filmography

In 2017, it was reported that 21 Savage was working on his debut film, Issa Movie.[97]

21 Savage has also worked on a YouTube animated mini-series named Year 2100.[98]

Discography

Studio Albums

Collaborative Studio Albums

Mixtapes

Extended Plays

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
2017 BET Awards[99] Best New Artist Himself Nominated
Streamy Awards[100] Breakthrough Artist Nominated
2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards[101] Best New Hip-Hop Artist Nominated
Hip-Hop Song of the Year "Rockstar" (with Post Malone) Nominated
Billboard Music Awards[102] Top New Artist Himself Nominated
Top Hot 100 Song "Rockstar" (with Post Malone) Nominated
Top Streaming Song (Audio) Nominated
Top Collaboration Nominated
Top Rap Song Won
American Music Awards[103] Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Song Nominated
Collaboration of the Year Nominated
MTV Europe Music Awards[104] Best Song Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards[105] Song of the Year Won
Best Hip-Hop Video "Bartier Cardi" (with Cardi B) Nominated
BET Awards[106] Best Collaboration Nominated
BET Hip Hop Awards[107] Best Featured Verse Nominated
Best Collabo, Duo or Group "Ric Flair Drip" Nominated
2019 Grammy Awards[108] Record of the Year "Rockstar" (with Post Malone) Nominated
Best Rap/Sung Performance Nominated

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