Dublin rap act Versatile have come under fire for the ‘racist’ and ‘misogynistic’ lyrics of some of their songs.
Casey Walsh (20) and Alex Sheehan (21), who work with producer and DJ Evan Kennedy, perform as rappers ‘Casper’ and ‘Eskimo Supreme’ who they say are from the inner city.
They first performed in May 2017 before embarking on a tour of Ireland in 2018 and have had a hugely successful year with popular performances at Electric Picnic and Longitude as well as a sold out gig at the Marquee in Cork.
They are also set to perform a sold out gig at the 3Arena in November.
The press release for that gig describes the act: “Expressing the madness they contracted from inhaling the salt saturated air of Ringsend, Dublin their songs flip from sharp commentaries to colourful narratives of what they see happening around them on a daily basis.”
Given Versatile’s increased profile ahead of the 3Arena show, this week they have come under scrutiny following criticism on social media regarding their lyrics.
Irish Nigerian author and broadcaster Emma Dabiri shared lyrics to one of Versatile’s songs, Dublin City G’s, on social media, adding, “Ladies and gentlemen I present to you @outburstpal [Versatile’s Twitter handle] “The face of Irish rap”.
The post prompted criticism from others labelling the lyrics ‘disgusting’ and ‘misogynistic’ while some defended Versatile as being a ‘parody’ act.
Dabiri added, “What’s even better is all the white Irish people defending this, saying it’s only a bit of craic and why can’t all these snowflake haters just support Irish music?! Wow. If this is the ‘face of Irish rap’ Irish rap needs to hang its head in f**king shame.
“Now I appreciate they are a couple of talentless ‘rappers’ leveraging their whiteness & outrage to gain traction so I’m pretty loath to post about them, but I’m genuinely staggered. I’ve only seen this convo doing the rounds in Irish networks & think others need to see it.”
Law lecturer Bashir Otukoya wrote, “Disgusting words from fellow Irishmen women of colour are not your side chick! They are queens song or joke, whatever you call it, ALL women should be treated with utmost respect!”
Irish hip hop artist Erica Cody also took to Twitter to comment, “This s**t makes me so f**kng angry. Our scene is finally thriving and the quality of music is INCREDIBLE in the urban hip hop scene full of artists who encourage and respect the CULTURE and don’t get half the recognition that these lot do….”
She added, “This is not hip hop (most certainly not the face of the hip hop scene in Ireland). This is not “ah it’s only a joke”. This is the normalisation of classist, racist, homophobic & sexist lyrics that have now managed to become a part of mainstream Irish media.
“One last thing. To anyone who says I’m “jealous” or “not supporting Irish music”.. Firstly: I am not jealous of the horrific lyricism aka homophobia, casual racism and sexism (that is not an art form hun) ..”
Cody retweeted fellow Dublin hip hop artist Nealo, who wrote, “If black Irish people say they are hurt by the lyrics in that versatile song, then they are completely valid. White people dont get to decide what does and what doesn’t count as racism. We don’t experience what they go through on a regular basis. This is factual.”
Some have called on the 3Arena to cancel Versatile’s November show.
The venue took to social media to note that the show is “strictly over 16s”, adding “Anybody under the age of 16 will NOT be permitted into the venue regardless of the age of the person accompanying them. Thank you.”
Versatile are not giving interviews regarding the matter. Independent.ie has reached out to promoters MCD for comment.
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