Sitting down with veteran scribe Jon Caramanica, 21 opened up on moving from London to Atlanta as a child, his incarceration that caused him to miss the GRAMMYs, the reactions — including the memes — following his arrest, and more.
On the missed GRAMMY performance
I was supposed to perform. He [Post Malone] wore the 21 Savage shirt, so I felt like I was there. I don’t care what nobody say — everybody in that building who’s connected to this culture, I was on their mind in some type of way. That’s all that mattered. They didn’t have to say it ’cause everybody knew it. It was in the air. All the people that was there, they said the words in other places and that matter just as much. All the big artists was vocal about the situation, so I was appreciative. Even the memes.
On not giving up, no matter the cost
It was what was at stake. It’s like, I got three kids, my mama, everything that I know is here in Atlanta. I’m not leaving Atlanta without a fight. We gon’ fight all the way till the last day even if that mean I sit in jail for 10 years.
On the repercussions of possibly being deported
It really wasn’t jail, it was the possibility of me not being able to live in this country no more that I’ve been living in my whole life. All that just going through your head, like, “Damn, I love my house, I ain’t gonna be able to go in my house no more? I ain’t gonna be able to go to my favorite restaurant that I been going to for 20 years straight?” That’s the most important thing. If you tell me, “I’ll give you 20 million to go stay somewhere you ain’t never stayed,” I’d rather be broke. I’ll sit in jail to fight to live where I’ve been living my whole life.
Read the rest at the NY Times’ e-home.