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    Trap Tales or True Confessions? Cracking the Code of 21 Savage’s Lyrics

    In a recent Rolling Stone feature by Mankaprr Conteh, the co-creator of “Her Loss” revealed that the narratives in his music are largely imaginative, especially when it comes to the street-focused content and visual imagery. He described his lyrics as “fiction as hell,” adding, “I just conjure it up in my mind. Some of it is rooted in reality, but a lot of it is creative storytelling.”

    The Art of Storytelling: 21 Savage’s Approach to Lyrics

    In his lyrics, 21 Savage often plays with the boundaries of fiction and reality. He’s been known to say, “I’m not a saint, I’m a sinner / I’m not a hero, I’m a villain” in “Bank Account” and “I’m not a rapper, I’m a storyteller / I’m not a gangster, I’m a businessman” in “A Lot”. These lines reveal his understanding of his public persona as a construct, a character in the narratives he weaves.

    21 Savage decides when to incorporate elements from his own life into his lyrics based on several factors. One factor is the relevance of those elements to the theme or topic of the song. He chooses elements that are related or connected to what he wants to say or show through the song.

    Blurring the Lines: Fiction and Reality in 21 Savage’s Music

    For example, he uses personal details about his family background (such as being born in London), immigration journey (such as being deported), legal troubles (such as being arrested), etc., when making songs about those topics (such as Bank Account).

    Another factor is the impact of those elements on the mood or tone of the song. He chooses elements that enhance or contrast with how he wants the listeners feel when listening to the song.

    For example, he uses positive details about his success (such as being signed by Metro Boomin), wealth (such as buying expensive cars), fame (such as appearing on magazines), etc., when making songs that celebrate those aspects (such as Bank Account).

    However, he also uses negative details about his losses (such as losing friends), struggles (such as facing violence), enemies (such as being targeted by rivals), etc., when making songs that reflect those aspects (such as A Lot).

    Facing the Music: 21 Savage’s Legal Struggles and Their Impact on His Career

    Reality struck a hard blow in February 2019 when it was disclosed that Savage, born Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was actually a British immigrant, contrary to his fans’ belief that he was an Atlanta native.

    The Grammy Award-winning artist was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after arriving in the United States with his parents about 15 years prior, when he was just seven. Officials alleged that the rapper was “unlawfully present” in the U.S., as his 2005 visa reportedly expired a year after he settled in Atlanta.

    Savage was threatened with deportation and a 10-year ban from reentering the States, compounded by a 2014 felony drug charge in Fulton County. ICE was unaware of Savage’s immigration status at the time of his arrest.

    It was reported that the rapper had been attempting to renew his visa since 2017 and had applied for a U visa petition, which allows victims to aid law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting crimes without fear of deportation.

    A New Chapter: 21 Savage’s U.S. Citizenship and Future Plans

    Fast forward to October 2023, four years post-arrest, Savage obtained U.S. citizenship and was granted permission for international travel. He subsequently embarked on a European tour, culminating in a sold-out concert in London.

    Now a citizen, Savage is gearing up to release his third solo album, although he mentioned to Rolling Stone that “we ain’t got no mixes back yet.” This album will be his first since 2018’s “I Am > I Was” and his most recent solo project in five years, following 2020’s “Savage Mode II” with Metro Boomin and “Her Loss” with Drake.

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