"21 Savage is important because he's one of the last real street n---as left making music."
That's how rapper and music producer Metro Boomin referred to the Grammy-nominated recording artist and songwriter born She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph in a 2015 interview with The Fader following the release of his debut mixtape, The Slaughter Tape.
And since Savage burst onto the Atlanta music scene over four years ago, that's been the general consensus from fans and music critics alike; that this was an artist who took a life that was going down a decidedly deadly path—one that saw him shot six times by a rival gang on his 21st birthday—and turned it around to mine the depths of that danger in his highly-autobiographical music.
But all that authenticity was thrown into question on Sunday, Feb. 3 when the rapper who Interview magazine presented as "Atlanta-born" in 2018 was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the intention to deport, accusing the 26-year-old of being a British national who'd been in the States unlawfully since his nonimmigrant visa expired in 2006.
"His whole public persona is false," an ICE spokesperson told CNN. "He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa."
Suddenly, a life that seemed ripe for the Hollywood biopic treatment has some wondering if parts of this script were already written.