Their rap band is called the Windsor Park Wild Dogz, but Andrew and Adrian Ebanks, known locally as the Beatrice Twins, claim it has nothing to do with neighbourhood gangs, violence or disaffected youth.
In fact, they say, they fear they may have been compromised by the mistaken association of the Wild Dogz with a growing public awareness of gang activity among Cayman secondary schools, students and unemployed young people.
‘There is no gang called the Windsor Park Wild Dogz,’ says Andrew, the more talkative of the brothers.
‘It’s just the name we picked because I feel a vibe, I know the area. It’s where I played marbles and basketball and football, and we raced around on bikes.’
The public confusion, he says, is because the name of the band appears scrawled across a handful of Walkers Road walls and fences, complemented by soft pastel graphics drawn by a skilled hand. It is reminiscent of gangland graffiti almost anywhere in the world.
But it is their fans, they say, devotees of the band and its music, that put the ‘writing on the wall’, advertising their favourite local product, a Walkers Road original.
‘They have the moves,’ Andrew says. ‘Whether it’s in three or four different places; I know some of them, some of the people that put it up there.
‘They just like the music, so they put it on the wall. These are natural happenings,’ he says.
The twins, 21, have been working for as long as eight years in the studio of their father, James Ebanks, whose Blue Steel band has been a fixture in Cayman for years. Their mother, Beatrice, now retired, was a well-known and popular police officer.
The twins say they have been developing their own sound and style, building a dream for the future out of a troubled past in their Windsor Park home.
It has been a past of ups and downs. At times, it has involved the police, the courts, older siblings, family issues, neighbourhood friends and, yes, gang influences.
Local community outreach efforts registered some successes, although disappointments have also occurred.
The brothers impress visitors with an abundance of wit, intelligence and style, an assessment echoed by a former RCIP beat officer who knows them well.
‘They are relatively good kids with lots of potential,’ says Michael Montaque, previously a constable with the RCIP community-outreach programme, and now a detective sergeant with the Financial Crimes Unit. He has known the brothers most of their lives.
‘They are kids that need supervision, but have been involved in some good stuff. We tried to set up a car wash business with them last August, for example.’
Mr. Montaque says government had donated land, and he had asked band member Ricardo Kelly to sketch the carwash.
‘We had the infrastructure and a couple of companies said they’d give us assistance, that we’d get some equipment. I thought it was going to materialise,’ he said.
In the end, however, Constable Montaque was transferred and the project stalled.
Andrew isn’t sure what happened to the project, but both brothers are disappointed.
‘We were trying to get them to help clean up the neighbourhood,’ he says.
‘They came to us, reasoned with us. We wanted to fix the place up, leave it clean.
‘They tried to help us set up a carwash. Mr Montaque gave us a reference so we could get a good job.’
When the project stalled, the brothers were thrown back on their music, they say, confronting the various temptations of fast money from drug dealing and other influences they appear wary of describing.
‘With drugs, the money comes fast, but then you have to waste a lot of time in prison, so you just don’t go that way,’ Adrian says.
‘A lot of influences came from all angles; even from people wearing neckties.’
Detective Sergeant Montaque says the rap band is, in fact, named after a very real neighbourhood gang with about 15 tattooed regular members, and another half-dozen hangers-on.
‘No gang member would normally tell you they’re in a gang. The first thing they’ll tell you it’s just a rap band,’ he said.
Andrew heatedly disputes the label, saying the people around him are no more than childhood friends.
‘If you live close to somebody, you’re gonna see these people. If you put your fingers in it, you’re gonna get scalded,’ he says
His claim is supported by a local social worker, calling herself only ‘Karen’, who says she knows the neighbourhood.
‘These guys are not part of gangs, not like you find in the US and the cities there,’ she says.
‘These are local kids, friends. I know a lot of them. They are not into violence and guns and drugs. They aren’t ‘gangs’ in the sense people usually talk about.’
Still, the brothers appear quietly aware of the ‘gang’ associations of the band’s name, and are not entirely unhappy about it, recognising the ‘street cred’ it confers.
Detective Sergeant Montaque is hopeful for the brothers, observing that they have stayed out of trouble for several years.
‘They’re all good guys and if you took them away from the group [of friends] you could save them from themselves. They could advance if someone were willing to work with them,’ he says.
The band has played at the Sports Awards, at Cayfest and Starquest, and has given away at least 400 copies of their self-produced CD.
‘We are working hard with our music now,’ Adrian says. ‘We need a strong backbone because the music is original, we are writing our own stuff.
‘We only ask that people keep an open mind, and to make sure it’s wide, wide open.
”I’m walking a very hard road,’ Andrew finishes, ‘with a lot of potholes to dodge.’