21 Savage’s English origins stun fans of the Atlanta rapper
By ANDREW DALTON
AP Entertainment Writer
Tuesday, February 5
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a shock for fans when 21 Savage was taken into custody by U.S. immigration agents in Georgia. It was an even bigger shock to learn he had been an immigrant in the first place.
The Grammy-nominated rapper and his music are so deeply associated with Atlanta that the notion he was actually born in England and brought to the U.S. at age 12 felt downright bizarre.
Scores of surprised tweets came after his Sunday arrest. Memes bloomed that some called cruel under the circumstances, including one of him dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard, along with an old video of him talking in a mock English accent about tea and crumpets. While the United Kingdom is responsible for rap icon Slick Rick, he also grew up in America, and its rappers traditionally have not had much success in America.
“It seems so outlandish that the prototypical Atlanta rapper is not from Atlanta,” said Samuel Hine, a writer and editor at GQ who researched 21 Savage and spent a day with him for a profile in the magazine last year. “I think that’s why so many people were sort of making fun of him, and making memes.”
By all accounts, few knew his real birthplace, and it certainly wasn’t publicly known. His accent gave no indication, and his birth name, Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, could come from any number of birthplaces.
“I certainly heard no whispers challenging his accepted backstory,” Hine said.
Abraham-Joseph was detained in a targeted operation in the Atlanta area and put in deportation proceedings, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said.
Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys said U.S. immigration officials have known his status at least since 2017, when he applied for a new visa. That application is pending, and his attorneys say he should not be detained.
Both sides agree that Abraham-Joseph came to the U.S. as a child in 2005, and he stayed in after his visa expired in 2006.
“He, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own,” Kuck Baxter Immigration, the law firm representing Abraham-Joseph, said in a statement Monday, adding that he now has U.S. Citizen children of his own.
Abraham-Joseph then spent his teenage years in Atlanta — the city that birthed rap gods OutKast — and his image and later his music became defined by the city’s distinctive and rich hip-hop culture. Even the “21” in his name is a reference to the block where he lived there.
“Him growing up in Atlanta is a pretty fundamental part of his story,” Hine said. “His identity is so rooted in his Atlanta sound, his Atlanta crew.”
Abraham-Joseph was truthful when he rapped about his youthful exploits in Atlanta, including run-ins with the law over guns and drugs, Hine said. He just left out the stuff that came before that.
A pair of mixtapes in 2015 made his star rise quickly in the Atlanta underground. Collaborations with Atlanta artists including Metro Boomin and Offset of rap group Migos raised his profile.
He signed with Epic Records and made a pair of successful albums. His latest, “I Am I Was,” debuted at the top of the Billboard top 200 album charts this past December.
He collaborated with Drake, Cardi B, and Post Malone, whose song with 21 Savage, “Rockstar,” is nominated for two Grammys at Sunday’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
For many who love 21 Savage, surprise about his arrest quickly gave way to outrage.
Offset tweeted that he was “PRAYING FOR MY DAWG. ALL THE MEMES … AINT FUNNY HIS FAMILY DEPENDING ON HIM.”
Rapper Vince Staples joined many others in tweeting, “Free 21!”
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors established an online petition to stop his deportation that was fast gaining signatories.
Singer Demi Lovato felt some of the anger when she tweeted Sunday that “21 savage memes have been my favorite part of the Super Bowl.” She later clarified that she wasn’t laughing “at anyone getting deported,” but subsequently deleted her Twitter account.
While it’s not clear if it had anything to do with his own status, Abraham-Joseph did just recently address the subject of immigration and detention. Last week on the “Tonight Show,” he added a verse to his song “A Lot: that include the line, “been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.”
Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed.
Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .
Adam Levine’s Super Bowl nipple reveal prompts backlash
By LEANNE ITALIE
AP Entertainment Writer
Tuesday, February 5
NEW YORK (AP) — First, critics panned Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime performance. Then social media folks went full-on snark over Adam Levine’s throw pillow-like tank top design. Then he peeled off the busy brown shirt and the snark turned to outrage over his exposed nipples.
The bare-chested moment Sunday had some feminists and Janet Jackson supporters focused on how male and female nipples are treated differently in life, especially on network TV and by the NFL years after Jackson’s career was derailed by a split-second halftime reveal.
“Double standard, much?” is how an InStyle headline neatly summed up the issue in the light of day Monday as the media noted how the hate quickly built online. Singer-songwriter Neko Case aptly captured the mood in an F-bomb-infused tweet likening the frontman to a half-nude greased pig.
Jackson’s 2004 wardrobe malfunction, thanks to Justin Timberlake’s tug on her bodice, earned CBS a $550,000 Federal Communications Commission fine that was later voided by an appeals court. Levine’s nipples enjoyed far more stage time.
A CBS spokesman, Chris Ender, and an NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy, did not immediately return email requests for comment Monday.
Kimberly Seals Allers, a journalist and breastfeeding advocate, wrote of the male-female double standard on public exposure of nipples in her 2017 book, “The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding.” She was watching the game Sunday and joined the Twitter choir with some research she had done.
Public breastfeeding has become a flashpoint for controversy over exposure of female nipples, from the arrests of women who do it around the globe to restaurants who have banned it.
Interestingly, she wrote, male nipples were also sexualized and banned from public view until men protested, ignited in 1930 when four were arrested in Coney Island for going shirtless on a beach.
“Then Hollywood icon Clark Gable stripped off his shirt in ‘It Happened One Night,’” Allers wrote, “marking the scandalous debut of a man’s uncensored nipples in American cinema.”
In 1935 New Jersey, 42 topless men were arrested in Atlantic City during a demonstration, according to the book. By 1936, however, after ongoing protests, neighboring New York lifted its ban on men going topless and “suddenly a man’s nipples were no longer ‘obscene’ in society but, rather, commonplace and natural,” Allers wrote.
Such an effort has been made for women in recent years, spurred on by the 2015 “Free the Nipple” movie and movement, but little headway has been made.
Allers said Monday by telephone that the Jackson controversy was the first thing she thought of when she watched Levine peel off his tank.
“The issue was around the nipple itself,” she said of the decades-old bans on topless men. “Clark Gable really did what was considered a very provocative thing in the movie by taking off his shirt and that was the first time,” she said. “Ever since then it became very commonplace, versus what happened to women, where their fight to not sexualize their breasts didn’t have the same success.”
She called it a “trap,” and Jackson’s Super Bowl moment remains a solid example, Allers said. It’s the first thing she thought of when Levine took the show to skin.
“I thought, it must be nice to have that freedom, which women don’t have,” Allers said. “Janet Jackson is still being punished for that. There’s just not the same level of dialogue around men and their bodies.”
Opinion: Could the ‘Salvator Mundi’ Kerfuffle Save the Art Market From Itself?
By Rafael Salazar
The Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Prevention Act, proposed in 2018 by former Republican congressman Luke Messer of Indiana seems to be making a comeback after stalling in Congress. While regulating the art market might seem like a niche topic, increasing transparency and cracking down on the rampant money laundering the art world is increasingly associated with would actually be essential to halting the flow of funds to extremist groups like ISIS and other criminal organizations.
One needs look no further than the highly publicized case of “Salvator Mundi,” supposedly Leonardo da Vinci’s last painting, to understand why the art world needs to be regulated — fast. The artwork’s extraordinary rarity explains the record-setting amount Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev sold Salvator Mundi for at auction in November 2017. But it also explains why the painting stood at the center of a legal scandal that shook the art world to its very roots.
Indeed, the artwork has exposed a Swiss art dealer as an international fraudster, spawned a bidding war between Arab princes, mysteriously disappeared, and been linked to a wacky conspiracy theory alleging that Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates collaborated to get Donald Trump elected. All of this may sound crazy, but in the fast and loose art world it’s simply business as usual.
The painting first emerged from obscurity thanks to New York art dealer Robert Simon, who picked up what he thought was a heavily damaged copy for less than $10,000 in 2005. Once the painting was authenticated as a Leonardo, its value naturally soared — it sold in 2013 for $80 million to a paragon of the art world’s cast of shady characters: Swiss art dealer and billionaire Yves Bouvier, who’s been investigated by U.S. authorities for fraud.
Bouvier is a slippery character whose sobriquet is the “Freeport King” due to his ownership of a vast network of offshore companies and tax-exempt economic free trade zones known as freeports in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore. The Swiss dealer met Rybolovlev in 2002, when the wealthy Russian came to the Geneva Freeport to pick up a Marc Chagall painting. Over the next 12 years, Bouvier sold Rybolovlev 38 paintings, most notably “Salvator Mundi.”
The Leonardo sale sounded the end of their partnership — and the beginning of a continuing legal battle. When Rybolovlev read in a newspaper article that his dealer had bought “Salvator Mundi” for $80 million and then sold it to him for $127.5 million, he began looking into just how significant a markup Bouvier had been making off their transactions. The scale of what he uncovered prompted him to initiate legal proceedingson two continents, trying to recover the $1 billion he allegedly overpaid Bouvier.
Rybolovlev and Bouvier’s international legal wrangling has been a particularly theatrical example of the dirty dealings that often occur in freeports. As a boom in the art market has prompted new freeports to spring up around the world, authorities have sounded the alarm over the shady activities for which the tax-free zones often provide cover. Unscrupulous investors are using freeports as “black holes for dodging taxes,” while — as former congressman Messer pointed out — looted antiquities from Syria or Iraq are ending up in Swiss freeports, their funds eventually channeled to terrorist groups.
The exorbitant price tag of the painting has helped fuel the increasingly unhinged conspiracy theories surrounding the painting. Russiagate blogger Zev Shalev has insistedthat such a high amount must be covering up something fishy and that Rybolovlev put the painting up for sale knowing the Saudis and the Emiratis would bid for it, artificially inflating its value. Shalev also boldly stated that the sale of “Salvator Mundi” has been a subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a claim that has never been backed by any evidence.
Art insiders have also thrown cold water on the theory, suggesting that the “Salvator Mundi” sale was too high-profile to be part of some dastardly scheme. As Artnet critic Ben Davis emphasized, “If you’re going to do something really, really shady, you might not want to do it in a way that’s designed to put a big arrow over your head that says, ‘Look at me! Investigate me!’”
Georgina Adam, another art critic and writer, had a similar reaction: “I thought from the very beginning that it was completely bonkers. Would you launder money in public?”
Though many of the twists and turns of “Salvator Mundi’s” history can be chalked up to similarly banal explanations, they — along with the wild speculation it has engendered — nevertheless reveal how the unregulated art market has become overrun with a motley crew of conmen and conspiracy theorists.
Authorities often have little way of unraveling the tangled webs of trusts, offshore accounts and freeports that individuals like Bouvier dabble in. Even worse, many of these methods are currently completely legal — art has been referred to as “the largest unregulated market in the world,” making it a natural refuge for criminal organizations and tax evaders.
In the United States, Delaware is fast emerging as a choice destination for tax dodgers, with some companies even offering shuttle services between the First State’s freeports and New York.
For years, U.S. officials have been powerless to clamp down on this gray market; The Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Prevention Act would provide them with a valuable tool to root out the miscreants, making their fortunes through untaxed Picassos and looted Syrian treasures.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Rafael Salazar is a longtime Huffington Post blogger working as a research consultant with a focus on the Latin American region. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Audio-only book features writer’s memories of Philip Roth
Tuesday, February 5
NEW YORK (AP) — An upcoming audio-only book will feature an author’s memories of his complicated friendship with the late Philip Roth.
James Atlas’ “Remembering Roth” comes out March 1, the audio publisher and distributor Audible announced Tuesday. Atlas, whose books have ranged from the memoir “My Life in the Middle Ages” to an acclaimed Delmore Schwartz biography, will reflect on a relationship which began in the late 1970s and continued for decades. Roth died last spring.
According to Audible, Atlas and Roth would take walks together in Manhattan, where the two had apartments on the same block, and read each other’s work. (Atlas was among the few people Roth allowed to see a pre-publication edition of his novel “The Ghost Writer.”) In a 1979 profile which ran in The New York Times, Atlas wrote that Roth was “Discordant, manic, ebullient,” with “the verve of a Borscht-circuit comedian and a genius for mimicry.”
Their friendship was strained by Atlas’ biography of one of Roth’s literary heroes, Saul Bellow, a project that Atlas has written was suggested by Roth. Published in 2000, the book was condemned by many as an overly negative portrait.
Audible, which is owned by Amazon.com, is describing “Remembering Roth” as “Atlas’s deeply personal tribute to Roth delivered in his own voice.”
Rep. Crawley appointed to Ohio Commission on Minority Health
COLUMBUS— State Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus) today (Feb. 5) shared news of her recent appointment to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health (OCMH).
“When it comes to issues like access to health care, maternal health and infant mortality, toxic stress and many others, minority populations often fare worse than their white counterparts,” said Rep. Crawley. “I am honored to serve as a member of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and look forward to working together to address some of these health disparities that continue to keep too many minority Ohioans from reaching their full potential.”
OCMH was established in 1987 and was the first freestanding state agency in the nation to develop a concerted approach to address health disparities between minority and non-minority populations by implementing innovative and culturally sensitive strategies, promoting public health, encouraging legislative action and recommending public policy and systems changes.
In 2007, OCMH established Local Offices on Minority Health in Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown to address health disparities at the local level. OCMH also offers grant opportunities for public or private non-profit agencies with tax-exempt status. For more information on grant programs and local partnerships, please visit https://mih.ohio.gov/
The Columbus Symphony to Hold Benefit Concert March 9
Conductors and Musicians to Donate Time and Talents to Raise Funds for CSO Youth Education Programs
In a splendid, one-night-only event, The Columbus Symphony Cares About Kids Concert will feature Music Director Rossen Milanov and Assistant Conductor Andrés Lopera leading the Columbus Symphony in a special performance to benefit the organization’s education programs. In addition to a spectacular program that includes works by Copland, Mozart, Joan Tower, Tchaikovsky, and more, Concertmaster Joanna Frankel will be featured in Massenet’s “Méditation” intermezzo from his opera Thaïs, members of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform side-by-side with the orchestra in Chabrier’s España, and the evening will conclude with Maestro Milanov conducting Ravel’s magnificent Boléro. Milanov, Lopera, and the CSO musicians have volunteered to perform unpaid, lowering the hard cost of the concert and thereby increasing the donation to the youth education initiatives.
The Columbus Symphony presents The Columbus Symphony Cares About Kids Concert at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.) on Saturday, March 9, at 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.columbussymphony.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.
The full program for the evening will include:
Copland – Fanfare for the Common Man
Chabrier – España
Vivaldi – Concerto for 4 Violins (first movement)
Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante (finale)
Tower – Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman (Part VI)
Tchaikovsky – selections from Swan Lake
Massenet – “Méditation” from Thaïs
Ravel – Boléro
Proceeds from this concert will directly support the Columbus Symphony’s education programs which include the Young People’s Concerts, Mindful Music Moments, Backstage with the Symphony, in-school concerts/small ensemble, Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras, Young Musicians Competition, Side by Side with the CSO, master classes, Young Musicians’ Showcase, Concerts for Kids, Popcorn Pops, Music Educator Awards, and bus transportation to and from many of these programs. In the 2017-18 season, the CSO reached more than 23,000 students, teachers, and families through these education programs.
The Columbus Symphony presents THE COLUMBUS SYMPHONY CARES ABOUT KIDS CONCERT
Saturday, March 9, 7:30 pm
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
This splendid, one-night-only event will feature Music Director Rossen Milanov and Assistant Conductor Andrés Lopera leading the Columbus Symphony in a special performance to benefit the organization’s education programs. In addition to a spectacular program that includes works by Copland, Mozart, Dvořák, Joan Tower, Tchaikovsky, and more, Concertmaster Joanna Frankel will be featured in Massenet’s “Méditation” intermezzo from his opera Thaïs, members of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform side-by-side with the orchestra in Chabrier’s España, and the evening will conclude with Maestro Milanov conducting Ravel’s magnificent Boléro. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.columbussymphony.com, or by phone at (614) 228-8600 or (800) 745-3000.
The 2018-19 season is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. The CSO also appreciates the support of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, supporting the city’s artists and arts organizations since 1973, and the Kenneth L. Coe and Jack Barrow, and Mr. and Mrs. Derrol R. Johnson funds of The Columbus Foundation, assisting donors and others in strengthening our community for the benefit of all its citizens.
About the Columbus Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1951, the Columbus Symphony is the only full-time, professional symphony in central Ohio. Through an array of innovative artistic, educational, and community outreach programming, the Columbus Symphony is reaching an expanding, more diverse audience each year. This season, the Columbus Symphony will share classical music with more than 200,000 people in central Ohio through concerts, radio broadcasts, and special programming. For more information, visit www.columbussymphony.com.