Rapper 21 Savage has been freed from a federal immigration detention center in South Georgia, according to ajc.com, but he could still be deported for other reasons.
The discharge comes after a flurry of social media posts from various rappers and producers, calling for 21’s freedom. The musician was arrested earlier this month on an expired visa charge. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated that the rapper (also known as She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) is originally from the U.K, and argued that he was illegally staying in the U.S.
Artists such as Meek Mill and Metro Boomin’ took to Instagram and Twitter to protest against the deportation case, with Metro posting a picture in which “Free 21 Savage” was written on the back of his jacket. As a frequent collaborator with 21 (Without Warning), it was no surprise to see the producer stick by the rapper’s side.
As someone who’s grown up in the hip hop Internet era, I’ve witnessed how collaborative the genre has become. Gone are the days of bad blood and intense rap beefs that lead to dangerous behavior (a la Biggie and Tupac deaths). Nowadays, rappers tend to stay friendly towards each other, with only minor conflicts about stylistic choices riddling the media landscape (a la ghostwriting).
As a result, when a hip hop artist is unjustly accused of wrongdoing, many of their contemporaries will be active in expressing their concerns. Musicians like Meek and 21 have gotten a lot of support from their peers, specifically when it comes to their alleged misbehaviors.
When artists like Metro provide insight into their greatest concerns about wrongful politics, the attitudes and opinions usually trickle into society as a whole. Just look at what happened when Meek was in jail for a period of time. The Philadelphia Eagles organization literally used his situation as a way to not only motivate their own Super Bowl run, but also to shine light on an unfair conviction for violating probation.
Heck, the Eagles even played his classic “Dreams & Nightmares” song after they won their title.
The best part about these social media protests is the discussions they ignite. If it wasn’t for celebrities like LeBron James tweeting things like #FreeMeek, then other big business owners like Robert Kraft wouldn’t feel the need to comment.
I’ve noticed a good deal of positive results from these scenarios. For example, Meek was finally released from prison, and 21 doesn’t have to be deported (at least yet). This is all because of a simple hashtag on Twitter, used by people who have influence among younger people, and more importantly, the people who still aren’t acclimated to the social media era (i.e. Kraft).
As for 21 Savage, the support from his peers is a good example of this intriguing era of Internet rap. It’s an era that a lot of people older than my generation love to hate on, regardless of how powerful it is.
I’ve seen the capabilities of a simple movement or phrase and no matter what happens to 21, the justice system does seem to finally listening, and hopefully social media developments like these can be a stepping stone for better law enforcement decision-making.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.