Stevie G: From the Bronx to Drogheda to Mayfield we know the drill | Offica offers something fresh

The explosion of drill music in Ireland has been incredible, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: From the Bronx to Drogheda to Mayfield we know the drill | Offica offers something fresh

Offica plays Cyprus Avenue tonight.

The incredible thing about the explosion of drill music in Ireland is that it did so on its own terms with little or no help from the mainstream.

Offica and the whole A92 crew have been at the heart of this for the last few years, and tonight they hit Cyprus Avenue for an eagerly awaited show. These guys have been doing big big numbers, and Offica has already been added to July’s Longitude line-up in Marlay Park. The rest of the A92 collective have also been putting Drogheda on the map since their formation by manager Joel Safo in 2020, and they are inspiring young artists all around the country and beyond.

Offica grew up here as Tomas Adedayo Adeyinka and he began releasing music about four years ago while also developing as a talented footballer with Drogheda United. Injuries meant that the decision to choose music over soccer was ultimately made easier, and by 2019 his ‘Naruto Drillings’ track blew up big time on YouTube and there was no looking back.

KSI later joined him for a remix, while young UK rapper Fizzler joined him on another big tune, ‘Skiddibop’.

He soon followed with ‘Face Reveal’, ‘Opor’ and the lockdown anthem, ‘Where’s the motive’, joining the newly formed collective A92 soon after.

The group quickly had huge success with both the ‘A9 Link Up’ and ‘Plugged in Freestyle’ and Offica himself continued to make noise with ‘Take It’, ‘Obito’, ‘Oggy’ (with Sello) and ‘Plugged in Freestyle’ again with A92. There’s been more too, and the whole team is on the rise in a big way. ‘Plugged in’ even hit top 5 in Ireland while also breaking the UK charts and like many of their tunes it was ubiquitous on TikTok too. This is the sound of young Ireland and it’s still only the beginning.

A92 were formed with an aim of drawing more attention to acts outside of Dublin, and Drogheda now hosts Ireland’s most successful acts. They have been active in the community too raising funds and awareness about suicide and helping Drogheda Homeless Aid.

The massive numbers being done by both A92 and Offica dwarf many other more mainstream acts who get lots more press coverage, but these guys are making big moves here and abroad on street level with raw gritty music that is as good as anything you’ll hear in 2022.

Offica mixes up Irish and Yoruba slang into something really unique, while the other A92 members all have their own distinct styles too. DBO has got one of the best voices in Drill and his ‘Toronto Raptors’ is one of my own biggest tracks of the last six months.

Practically everything they have all released is an anthem, so the gig in Cyprus Avenue should be lit.

It’s been great watching the rise of these artists and there are many more young drill acts in Ireland about to explode too. Cork is bubbling nicely with plenty of good young MCs, and it’s the first time I’ve felt really good about the rap scene here for quite sometime.

Drill is making moves on its own terms and it has its own eco-system that bypasses traditional routes. Specialist YouTube channels cater for specialist acts and give them a far greater platform than the limited ones they would get on TV and radio here. Offica, A92 and others have managed mainstream airplay and hits against the odds, and they have not compromised their sound in doing so.

The criticism of drill from many ignorant voices dismisses the music and the culture without realising that many of the Irish artists are putting their distinct twist on this music which has travelled here from the US and UK.

Any hip-hop subculture is always gonna draw criticism, but like trap, grime and more conventional hip-hop, drill has come from a place where inner city youth have created something out of nothing. It’s as exciting to me as any other hard hitting rap style, and I can see many of the echoes of the rap that I first loved back in the day. This time it’s not only Compton or the Bronx, but it’s Mayfield and Drogheda and many other towns and postcodes where bored youngsters are being drawn by something new, something fresh and something that they can own themselves, unlike almost everything else in Ireland in 2022. Tonight Cork is gonna experience this new era first hand in Cyprus Avenue.

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