The rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham Joseph, was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this month after the department claimed that he is a British citizen who “is unlawfully present in the U.S.” from overstaying his visa.
Now, in an interview with the New York Times published on Sunday (February 17), days after he was released from custody on £100,000 bond, Savage has spoken about the funnier elements of his ordeal.
“Some of them was funny — I ain’t gonna lie,” he told the Times in reference to numerous memes that made light of his situation.
He said: “I was appreciative of that. I coulda been another person who just, ‘He locked up? Damn,’ and nobody said nothing. Some people, I see why they was mad. It ain’t about the meme, it’s about the bigger picture.
“But I done been through way worse things in my life than somebody putting me on a meme. I been shot — what is a meme? A meme is nothing. That’s something on the internet that I can do like this [turns over phone] and never see again. I look at bullet scars every day, so it’s like, a meme, bro?”
Elsewhere in the interview, Savage said that he feels “a responsibility” to speak up about his experience. “My situation is important ’cause I represent poor black Americans and I represent poor immigrant Americans. You gotta think about all the millions of people that ain’t 21 Savage that’s in 21 Savage shoes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Savage’s lawyers have confirmed that he was born in London and clarified that he moved to the US with his parents in 1999 at the age of 7. His legal status in the country expired in July 2006 “through no fault of his own,” they said.
The threat of deportation still looms for the Atlanta-based rapper, who is a father to three children.