The UCC Student’s Union has this week announced a competition, run alongside Three Ireland, which gives UCC Students the opportunity to win tickets to see Versatile in the 3arena. The competition, running on the UCCSU Instagram page runs until the 18th of November.
Versatile are a rap group composed of rappers Eskimo Supreme and Casper Walsh as well as their music maker, Evan Kennedy. As a part of the promotion for this event, 3 have described them as ‘Ireland’s most popular homegrown rap group in history.’. With the sold-out 3Arena gig coming soon, Versatile released a new single in collaboration the artist Coolio, best known for “Gangasta’s Paradise”. In this, he hails Ringsend as “the Compton of Europe”. One can only wonder what he would think of the duo’s home in D4. While the duo presents themselves as street-hardened drug dealing types, they may not be exactly that. Alex Sheehan, also known as Eskimo Supreme hails from St Conleth’s, a fee-paying secondary school in Ballsbridge. This led to criticisms for some of their lyrics, such as “I’d like to thank all the smack heads on Abbey Street/ For paying for the fresh Lacoste that are on me feet”.
Cailean Coffey, University Express Editor-in-Chief 2018/19, wrote a piece for Soul Doubt Magazine, where he catalogued the controversies and criticisms of the duo. The Express reached out to Cailean for comment and he had this to say;
“I think it’s disappointing that the SU has decided to promote, with help from 3, an act who have provoked negative racial and working class stereotypes both in their music and the way they act in public. Regardless of whether you view it as satire or not, it’s an attitude that, if continually promoted, will have a hugely negative effect both on UCC and on a more wide-scale basis”
The criticisms of classism formed just the tip of the iceberg for the pair, as the heightened media attention ahead of their concert lead to scrutiny of more and more of their lyrics. Erica Cody, another popular Dublin based artist was scathing in her criticism of the pair,
Photos surfaced of Cas Walsh in blackface soon after, and Versatile’s response was far from sufficient. While wide-scale criticism was still ongoing, they posted the following photo of themselves on Instagram;
They would go on to address the controversies again on twitter saying;
When approached by the University Express for a comment the Students Union responded by saying;
“There is a fundamental demand amongst our students to provide them with the opportunity to see popular national and international acts and when we were offered two free tickets to a Three Arena performance that had been sold out for 2 months we hoped to answer this demand.
We felt it was something students would overwhelming respond positively to and based on the positive activity of the vast majority of our followers on Instagram, I would guess we were correct in our estimations of the demand.
Music often challenges, pushes the boundaries and breaks societal taboos. This means it can often veer, from time to time, towards confrontation, misogyny or even incitements towards violence. UCC is a campus of free and independent thinkers and, if there is a debate to be had about the International and Irish rap industry’s choice of lyrics, we welcome it from our students.”