Twin of Twins - Stir It Up Vol. 9 Available - Debuts in the Top 10 on iTunes
Roughly 5 years ago, I was travelling the United States with a well-known reggae band, when on one particularly long drive a band member threw in a CD on the radio while the driver wasn't paying attention. Next thing I knew this one CD had all of us in the van laughing hysterically on what had previously been a boring ride. This was my first introduction to the "Gangsta Comedy" of Twin of Twins. 5 years and 4 volumes in their "Stir It Up" series later, I still laugh every time I hear these albums. I recently sat down with Patrick and Paul Gaynor, aka Curly Loxx and Tu Loxx to discuss their place in the culture of dancehall, their plans for the future, and their latest release Stir It Up Vol. 9 - Trial and Error.
"Basically, it's satire based on reality, done in a fun and joyful way," states Curly Loxx. He explains it as the Saturday Night Live of dancehall music. The term they use is "Gangsta Comedy," which the brothers say is not gangster in the criminal sense of the word, but rather changing the meaning to survival. To them, being "gangsta" is about the garrison culture, evolving past the gun and bringing fun to the culture. The latest volume includes parodies of well-known figures like Vybz Kartel, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Mutabaruka and more. As with previous volumes, the good-natured parodies are bound to have their supporters and detractors.
As Curly Loxx put it simply, "some people don't like it when the joke is on them." Still, many people, both those parodied and the listeners love Twin of Twins. Giving the example Reneto Adams, the Twins pointed out that prior to his parody; he was an almost universally disliked figure in Jamaican society. Afterwards, the jokes at his expense helped to lighten his public image and inadvertently make him a more likeable figure.
However, with all positives there are negatives as well. It is a possibility that Stir It Up Vol. 9 will be the last in the series, due in large part to plagiarism taking its toll. "Most people don't understand what it takes to do these releases, and plagiarism has a major effect. You want to get credit for what you put in." One of the downsides of parody is that many people assume that all quotes are from the originally parodied figure. For example, it is a surprise to many that the oft-quote "I are di one" is not actually a Bounty Killer quote, but rather from a classic Twin of Twins parody of the controversial deejay. Despite the love they receive from the streets, the Twins have had a very hard time in the industry as well. "The industry has never really given us our props. It's politics," they say.
To remedy this, Twin of Twins have decided to take matters into their own hands. "Our fans are many, so we are working to create our own arena, our own direction. There's so much fake hype, 3/4ths of the artists out there colt the game, and the radio is saturated with uptown artists to de-garrisonize dancehall," states Curly Loxx. "We are willing to work though, putting on our own shows and doing co-promotions with other people. We also have a TV show in the works, think of it as the Family Guy of dancehall culture. We are also working on a movie, titled Far East Yardie, think dubbed over Kung Fu movies." Clearly the works never stop for the Twin of Twins.
If one is truly a fan of Twin of Twins, the best thing they can do is to support the works, and there are many. Many are unaware that the brothers are the only dancehall artists to have been invited tolecture on the culture at Harvard University - showing that their brand of intelligence in comedy has been noticed by the highest parts of academia. As they say in Jamaica, one must "tek serious mek laugh," and the Twin of Twins do this tirelessly in their promotion the dancehall culture, often touching serious topics with a dose of good humor. Stir It Up Vol. 9 - Trial and Error is available today on iTunes, debuting in the top 10 reggae charts and featured on the reggae page.