21 Savage, the Atlanta-based trap rap artist set to perform at Brookfest on April 4, is notorious for violence in his songs. With an added criminal history that dates back to his adolescence, questions are being raised on how the 25-year-old “Savage Mode” rapper was able to pass security clearance to perform.
Born Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, 21 Savage was kicked out of numerous schools while growing up in Atlanta. He was placed in juvenile detention in high school for threatening another student with a gun. In 2014, Savage was caught driving with 22 grams of marijuana, 89 pills of hydrocodone, a Glock .40 and a Ruger .9mm, according to DJBooth.net.
Another possibility for this year’s performance was Houston-based rapper Travis Scott. However, the Undergraduate Student Government deemed him “to be too reckless” said Justas Klimavicius, the executive assistant to the Jaliel Amador, vice president of Student Life and Programming. Scott had previously been arrested in May 2017 for inciting a riot at a show in Arkansas.
USG has stated that security checks are in the hands of the University Police Department. UPD has denied access to performers in the past, but the criteria for what constitutes permission to perform is vague.
Back in the the fall, New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne posted on Instagram that he was coming to Stony Brook for Back to the Brook, which proved to be false.
“[Lil Wayne] expected to come into [Island Federal Credit Union Arena] without getting patted or wanded or pass through a metal detector, meanwhile he had a gun charge,” Amador said. This prompted USG to withdraw their offer to Wayne.
Despite Lil Wayne’s denial, there have been performers in the past who have a criminal record.
Last year’s Brookfest performers included DNCE, Joey Bada$$ and Alison Wonderland. Bada$$ has a history of run-ins with the law, having previously been arrested twice, once in October 2013 following a performance along with rapper Ab-Soul, and again in January 2015 for assaulting a security guard in Australia.
Many students have also voiced their disapproval of the recent decision on USG’s Facebook announcement, complaining about the abundance of rap choices through the recent years.
“Oh look, yet another rapper,” a Facebook user posted on the USG Facebook page. “How bout changing it up every once in a while.”
Several other comments were negative, calling the decision “trash.” One user even posted a link to a Facebook video of 21 Savage performing at an Atlanta Hawks halftime show with the title “Worst NBA halftime performance ever!”
“USG should provide a poll for students to vote on,” Nicolas Rutig, a sophomore health science major, said. “Also trying to get more dates available [at Island Federal Credit Union Arena] so more artists could be asked would work.”
In the past, USG has polled students. Wayne was included in the polling for Back to the Brook that took place in the fall, but USG decided to go with Post Malone. This year, there was no poll included for Brookfest, leaving USG to go with whichever artist was available for the dates of the show.