Rapper 21 Savage, who has long said he is from the US state of Georgia, was detained on Sunday by US immigration officers who say he is actually British and overstayed his visa.
The news sent shockwaves through social media as the Grammy-nominated 26-year-old rapper – whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham Joseph – says he is local act from Atlanta, the capital of hip hop.
“We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings,” the rapper’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, said in a statement to AFP.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox told the local Atlanta Journal-Constitution outlet that 21 Savage is an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” who entered the United States in 2005 on a visa that expired one year later.
The US agency also told the paper he had been arrested and later convicted for felony drug charges in 2014 – but at the time, ICE was unaware that he was in fact British.
According to the paper 21 Savage was arrested in a “targeted operation.”
The artist, known for his conversational rap delivery and no-nonsense sincerity, released his debut studio album in 2017.
His lyrics touch on everything from drugs and violence to systemic racism and police brutality.
His sophomore album, I Am > I Was debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 in December 2018, holding the number one spot for two consecutive weeks.
The rapper is up next week for two Grammys for his work on fellow rapper Post Malone’s smash hit Rockstar, including for the major Record of the Year award.