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Two things are immediately apparent upon meeting Rasue and Rasheeb Pinnock. First, they bear an uncanny resemblance to Stephen Marley, the son of musical legend Bob Marley and a five-time Grammy winner in his own right. Second: They look absolutely, unbelievably stoned. The 22-year-old, glassy-eyed twins, who go by the name Twin-Set when recording music, claim they're a part of the Marley lineage, but during a meeting over an oxtail lunch at Coconutz Fusion Cafe, a favorite food spot near their home in Hollywood, they don't want to discuss this contentious claim. They're wearing matching green shirts and flat-brimmed "New York"-emblazoned hats as they sit down to hype their upcoming first single, "The First Shall Be the Last, and the Last Shall Be the First."
The two are singjays, or singers who also DJ. They want to take the music of their heritage, blend it with contemporary rap, and release it on their friend's label, Caution Inc. Instead of rhyming about guns, though, they say they'll be singing about love and positivity.
"It's in the blood," Rasue says about the brothers' musical inclination. Raised in Kingston, Jamaica, they both sport butter-thick accents along with their cornrows. They moved to Miami when they were 10 and currently have day jobs taking care of racehorses.
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"Trust me, hip-hop reggae is going to be the biggest thing in the world in the next couple of years," Rasheeb adds. The two wear identical outfits every day, including matching jewelry emblazoned with the word "Marley." They say the only difference between them is their favorite colors. They both take their salads with no dressing.
Bob Marley's website acknowledges that he has 11 children. So it's logical that the late singer has a ton of grandkids. But representatives of Bob Marley's estate say that Twin-Set are not among them.
Bonnie E. Eskenazi, a lawyer for Stephen Marley (who lives in South Florida) and the estate of Bob Marley, wrote in an email: "Please be advised that there is no basis in fact for the Pinnock brothers' assertions; in fact, we firmly believe to the contrary. Neither Stephen Marley, nor any other member of the Marley family, has any relationship whatsoever with the Pinnock brothers. Stephen Marley has never even met the Pinnock brothers' mother. We have reason to believe that these individuals aspire to a music career, and if such is the case, we suspect they are making these representations about the Marley family in an obvious attempt to capitalize on and trade off of the Marley family name."
Twin-Set's manager, Philmore Carter, 49, a gray-haired Rasta who goes by the nickname "Prince," regularly claims in news releases that the twins are Stephen Marley's sons, despite the fact that the twins have no documentation to back up their claim.
A September 2013 article in New York's Times Union profiled the brothers, who were then working in Saratoga Springs, New York, on a horse farm. In that article, the brothers said they dreamed of carrying on their father's legacy and would change their last names to Marley when their album was released.
The reporter took their claims at face value, and it was only after Eskenazi wrote to the paper that "there is no basis in fact for any of these assertions" that the paper investigated further. According to the Times Union, the boys then said their birth certificates listed no father; relatives told them Stephen is their dad.
Prince claims Twin-Set met Stephen Marley at a concert and that the three instantly hit it off. Eskenazi disputes that, saying, "Stephen Marley has never even met the Pinnock brothers' mother."
"It's an open secret," says Prince. "Once people see them, just know that you can't hide fire in the darkness."
Twin-Set hopes to release its first album in conjunction with the Nine Mile Music Festival — where Stephen, Damian, and Julian Marley are set to perform — on February 15 in Miami.