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Born in December 1991, to the legendary reggae DJ, Kenneth ‘Lion King’ Charles, and wife Camille, Asfa and Yacob Charles, are products of a reggae-filled household, grounded in the traditions of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the teachings of Rastafari.
Their story began in St. James, Trinidad, where the twin recalls playing around in their father’s studio and interacting with a number of notable, local and international reggae artistes. As Asfa recalls, at the time, much of their interaction with the music, the apparatus and the musical personalities, was simply them ‘being boys’ more so, than them showing any serious interest in, or intention to join the family business. He also notes that they were also often reprimanded by their father, the Lion King, for whom this was not merely a lifestyle, but his livelihood.
In 2003, at the age of twelve, Asfa and Yacob Charles made their debut as Reggae DJ’s (selectors) – the Lion Twin – at the Twelve Tribes of Israel Youth Concert. They attribute their debut to the endorsement and encouragement of Reggae veteran and family friend, Fred Locks, as well as the guidance and support of their father, who at that time, had been well established in the business for over two decades.
The twin recalls their DJ debut as an overwhelming experience, brimming with nerves and an extraordinary outpouring of love and support from the Twelve Tribe Audience. They made their start on their father’s sound system – Lion King – with Asfa playing the role of selector, while Yacob held the crowd as the ‘mic man’. The event entailed strictly reggae music, which was fitting for the boys, whose upbringing was based on a rich assortment from that genre.
Subsequently, the Lion Twin played at countless urban events, from (including) stage productions, and reggae concerts to sound clashes. The brothers recall some of their past gigs, which included events with musical legends like Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Berres Hammond and Culture and others such as Jah Cure, Vybz Kartel, Junior Gong, Nas and so on.
As members of the Lion King musical camp, the duo established themselves as a superior reggae sound. As they progressed, the brothers became more comfortable in reverse roles; the unmistakable voice of the Lion Twin is now Asfa, while Yacob holds the fort as the selector/DJ. Regionally, the Lion Twin made a name for themselves as the youngest selectors in the reggae genre and leaders in the business.
At the age of eighteen (18), Asfa and Yacob, along with their cousin Jahzy, entered a nationwide DJ competition and emerged the champion sound in the batch. This success launched the Lion Twin’s radio career. The trio were employed by the oldest and number one urban radio station in Trinidad and Tobago, 96.1 WeFM, and branched out further into more urban music, including Soca, Dancehall and Hip Hop. While their cousin has since left the station, the Lion Twins remain a part of the regular line-up at 96.1 WeFM. They have become known predominantly, for their Sunday evening reggae set, from 4-6pm where according to Asfa, they “continue to spread that good reggae music across the nation”.
2014 marked a change in the direction and scope of the Lion Twin. Asfa and Yacob have shifted their concentration back to their roots essentially, whereby their principal focus is Reggae music.
Outside of their set appearances on the radio, the Lion Twin has taken the road of playing strictly reggae. Their goal is to elevate and motivate; to promote positivity and consciousness through their musical selections. As born members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, their fundamental objective is to always advocate/endorse the music and teachings of Rastafari.
Recently, the brothers have been actively involved in musical production and collaborations. The Lion Twin Studio is the Twin’s production label where selector Yacob also holds the position of producer. The brothers have partnered with several local and international reggae artistes and DJs, to produce a number of records/tracks and mixtapes.
The ambitions of the brothers have also extended to the development of the DREAD Movement. This initiative was born out of the aspirations of the brothers to not only promote the positive and conscious message through Reggae music, but also to essentially transform the underground culture that this genre of music thrives in. The Lion Twin, along with a handful of other like-minded friends formed the DREAD Movement. To this end, the team’s plan includes the production of a different kind of Reggae event. In addition, there are plans in place for DREAD Radio and DREAD TV, which will be launched later this year.
At 24 years old, Asfa and Yacob Charles have already enjoyed a dynamic and fruitful career that spans over a decade. They are recognized for their distinct sound and style and are well respected by their countless fans – both local and international – their peers and counterparts in the field. These impressive and ambitious young men continue to work hard and push forward, spreading their message and ideals through their labour. For the Lion Twin, their efforts are not merely a tedious job, but the promotion of a lifestyle, which they are wholly committed to.