Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was born on 22 October 1992 in Roseau, Dominica. Then his family moved to Atlanta, where he grew up with 10 siblings. One of Shayaa’s brothers was killed in a shooting related to drug dealing. Later, the rapper made a tattoo of a sword between his eyes in honor of his brother. Shayaa never graduated from high school. He was expelled for possession of a firearm. When the rapper became older, he joined a gang and started participating in armed robberies.
In October 2013, during one of the armed robberies, Shayaa received six gun wounds. One of his friends was killed. After the miraculous survival, the 21-year-old Abraham-Joseph decided to stop his criminal behavior and devote himself to music. That is when he started calling himself 21 Savage.
In the fall of 2014, 21 Savage recorded his debut single "Picky". Later, the song was included in the first mixtape The Slaughter Tape, which came out in the spring of 2015. The album was recorded together with other rappers and included 14 songs. Back then, it was still possible to book 21 Savage for a private event or a birthday celebration.
In the summer of 2015, 21 Savage and Sonny Digital recorded an EP Free Guwop, dedicated to the artist Gucci Mane. In December, the rapper released his 2nd mixtape, Slaughter King. Right after the release, he recorded the music video for the song "Dirty K". The album featured 14 songs.