Versatile youth sold on hip hop’s bling and drug culture

Versatile youth sold on hip hop’s bling and drug culture
Casey ‘Casper’ Walsh and Alex ‘Eskimo Supreme’ Sheehan made the case for young, current acts at Live at the Marquee.

A young crowd was out in force last night for Dublin duo Versatile’s Rebel County appearance. On the way down towards the Marina, the excitement and energy were palpable. The crowd, ranging in age from their mid-teens to mid-20s, was in party form from early on.

Bemused office workers stepped out along the quays to witness the throngs of young people heading to Versatile’s sell-out show, with support acts on from 6.30pm.

The Ringsend act have been recording videos for YouTube since 2014, first going viral with ‘She Goes Out With A Red Hot’, but their razor-sharp stage act only came into being in 2017, with an early gig in the Grand Social followed just months later with an impressive Electric Picnic debut. They’ve been lifting the roof off progressively larger and higher-energy gigs ever since.

“Are youse ready to get fucked up?” Casey ‘Casper’ Walsh greeted the crowd. “Are youse already fucked up?” Alex ‘Eskimo Supreme’ Sheehan cut in. And some were. There was the predictable level of messing on view that you’d see with a crowd of that age.

One on-duty garda admitted that things were “pretty tough” in terms of policing the event, with hordes of young people drinking and partying on the streets toward the event. At the same time, there was a level of energy not seen in the Marquee for a long time, a fresh excitement only youth and a long summer can bring.

The duo’s latest massively danceable single, ‘Prefontaine’, released in May alongside a video featuring the act driving around the capital in a hot pink stretch hummer, had the crowd roaring and singing along. High-octane fun and a banging dance tune to boot.

‘City Gs’, ‘Ketamine’, and the venomous ‘We Sell Brown’, which sees the duo bragging about getting people hooked on heroin to fund their designer gear, also went down a storm. While other Irish hip-hop acts reference austerity and toe the line with political correctness, Versatile don’t, unabashedly channelling the bling, guns, and drugs of transatlantic hip hop, and there’s a real sense that this is their greatest strength.

“We dished out the most brown in the country; We’re the reason your ma’s a fat junkie,” they rap, and the crowd laps up the parody and the humour and the dark, cutting edge.

Following on from their early summer appearance alongside Coolio to perform ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, like it or not, it’s clear that Versatile will be ones to watch for years to come.

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