Swedish producer Ludwig Goransson, who worked on ‘This is America’, was the only person to mention the detained rapper on-stage
Before he was detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week, 21 Savage was set to appear at Sunday night’s Grammys. The rapper was nominated for two awards for his feature on Post Malone’s “Rockstar”, but now faces possible deportation due to his immigration status.
ICE claims that 21 Savage was born in the UK before moving to Atlanta and overstaying his visa. The rapper’s lawyers say that he “never hid his immigration status from the US government” and had in fact applied for a U-Visa in 2017. They also add that he moved to the US in 1999 aged seven, spent most of his life in the country, has three children who are US citizens, and that his documents expired when he was a child “through no fault of his own”.
The national stage of the Grammys should have been the perfect place to draw attention to 21 Savage’s case, but it went largely unmentioned. While Post Malone was photographed backstage wearing a t-shirt bearing 21 Savage’s name, he wore it under a jacket during his performance of “Rockstar” with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In fact, it was only Ludwig Goransson, a Swedish producer, who acknowledged 21 Savage on-stage. During an acceptance speech for his contribution to Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, which won Record of the Year, Goransson said that 21 Savage “should be here”. 21 contributed some ad-libs to “This is America”.
The absence of his name was criticised on social media. “Big missed opportunity for Post Malone to advocate for 21 Savage’s release from ICE during his performance of ‘Rockstar’, which features 21,” wrote the civil rights group Color of Change on Twitter.
“The disembodied announcer is the first person to say 21 Savage’s name tonight,” said writer Doreen St Félix.
Post Malone did not win any awards, so it’s impossible to say whether he’d have mentioned 21 Savage in an acceptance speech. Dua Lipa, who won Best New Artist, reportedly mentioned the arrest, but only backstage. “It’s quite upsetting given that he hasn’t actually done anything and he’s also given so much to American culture even being a Brit,” she said.
Since his arrest, many celebrities have backed an online petition calling for 21 Savage’s release.
the disembodied announcer is the first person to say 21 savage's name tonight— doreen st. félix (@dstfelix) February 11, 2019