Update: This story was originally published before The Masked Singer revealed Robopine's identity.
Spoilers are ahead. The Masked Singer season premieres typically close with mesmerizing performances and season 5 did not disappoint. A giant porcupine shimmied onto the stage and immediately commanded the panel and audience’s attention when he announced that his real name isn't Porcupine, it's actually Robopine. The combination of the slightly terrifying costume and his silky smooth voice made him one of the most entertaining contestants in Group A. And while the panel spent much of season 5 wondering who might be lending their voice to such a nightmare-inducing character, on May 5 the singer was revealed to be F9 star Tyrese Gibson.
Original article continues:
There were a few candidates based on the clues, but let's keep in mind that during his version of Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much,'' Robopine mostly stayed in one spot, which initially suggested he is older. Confusingly, he also showed off a few moves when he was first introduced, so the panel speculated that he was a slightly younger R&B singer than his performance let on. They could be right — there is one R&B singer with Robopine's confidence and stage presence, who also matches up with the clues so far.
Clues That Tyrese Gibson Is Robopine
For his second performance, Robopine put his spin on another well-known R&B track:“All of Me” by John Legend. Robopine’s song selections and the tone of his voice highly suggest he is a professional R&B singer. However, the clues in his first package and the superhero-focused second set of clues also imply Robopine is also an actor. If you put these two ideas together in a venn diagram, there is one name that would fit perfectly in the overlap: Tyrese Gibson.
“Skilled at not becoming roadkill” — the Cluedle-Doo clue from Week 1: The Masked Singer gave away the biggest hint to Robopine’s identity when this first clue mentioned cars and driving. One of Tyrese’s most recognizable roles is portraying Roman Pearce in the Fast and Furious franchise. He is set to reprise his character in the upcoming F9 film.
The soda can from Week 1: Tyrese’s big break arrived when he appeared in a Coca-Cola commercial in 1994. It also introduced the world to his voice as he sang the line “Always Coca-Cola” in the advertisement.
“An angel said hello” from Week 1: Tyrese’s first movie role was in John Singleton's film Baby Boy. Singleton cast Tyrese as the main character and the pair later collaborated on two other movies. Singleton could be the “angel” Tyrese was referring to since the director, writer, and producer died in 2019 after suffering a stroke.
“Been in a funk lately” from Week 3: Tyrese announced he and his wife Samantha Gibson were divorcing in December of 2020. He posted an Instagram picture of the two with a caption that explained they were separating after almost four years of marriage.
“Felt like a singing superhero” from Week 3: In 2009, Tyrese co-created a comic book titled Tyrese Gibson’s MAYHEM! The comic followed a masked vigilante which explains the superhero references in the second clue package.
The mouse and police siren from Week 3: The camera zoomed in on a cat in this clue package but panelist Robin Thicke pointed out a mouse next to the cat. In one of Tyrese’s recent films called Black and Blue, he plays a character named Milo “Mouse” Jackson. Also, the protagonist of this film is a rookie police officer.
Self portrait clue with a spider from Week 3: Robopine’s self-portrait depicted him playing a guitar with a spider and web on his body. He said he had a spider phobia but confronted it. This clue could be a nod to Tyrese appearing in the film Morbius, which is a spinoff of Spider-Man.
The number 6 from Week 6: This highlighted number could refer to the six solo albums Tyrese has released. His most recent album, titled Black Rose, was possibly referenced in Robopine’s first clue package, which included roses.
A quest for a certain golden relic from Week 6: Robopine’s third clue package repeatedly mentioned his long journey to achieve a “relic.” Tyrese has been nominated for a Grammy six times, but he has never won. The Masked Singer trophy and a Grammy are both golden, but it is likely he was talking about this much more coveted award.
“Action-packed, fast paced ride” quote from Week 6: Usually the clue packages begin with clichés about the competition, and this important quote was tucked into the intro as a throwaway line. Robopine could have been referencing Tyrese’s major role in the Fast & Furious films — including this summer's Fast 9 — which embody the tagline “action-packed, fast paced ride.”
The referee signaling “traveling” from Week 6: Panelist Ken Jeong noticed that one of the men in black made a signal that represents “traveling” in basketball. Tyrese owns a travel business called Voltron Travel.
The AKA t-shirt from the Nick “Cannon” in Week 6: Robopine tried to brush this significant clue off by saying it represented his masked character originally being named Porcupine. However, just like his claim to be 60 years old, this could be a misdirect. After unveiling the t-shirt, panelist Jenny McCarthy joked, “Maybe he is in his alter ego.” Cannon seemed to make a connection and asked her to keep going, but she didn’t catch on. McCarthy unknowingly referenced Tyrese’s fourth studio album: Alter Ego.
“I’ve actually been struggling with depression lately” comment from Week 7: Robopine’s vulnerability this week suggests he is someone who has publicly addressed mental health issues before. Tyrese has spoken about the importance of taking care of his mental health recently in his career. In a 2019 interview with HOT97 radio, the singer said he goes to therapy and he explained why he wants to use his platform to encourage people who are struggling to get help.
The baby blocks and rattle from Week 7: The baby toys could be another reference to his first big film role in Singleton's Baby Boy. Tyrese also released a single called “Just a Baby Boy” that was featured on the soundtrack of the movie.
The story about singing at a block party from Week 7: Robopine said he publicly sang for the first time when his neighbor encouraged him to perform at a block party. Tyrese recalled this same story in a Facebook post last year when he visited his childhood home.
A lobster — Food Delivery Clue from Week 7: Oddly enough, Tyrese has a strong connection to lobsters and the restaurant chain Red Lobster. He appeared in a commercial for the restaurant in 2017 as he looked for #lobsterworthy moments. In a Delish interview from the same year, he described his Red Lobster order in detail: it includes lobster bisque and 3 to 4 pounds of snow crab legs.
Ginuwine Is Robopine
Thicke proposed that “Pony” singer Ginuwine was inside the Robopine costume. The theory seemed odd at first, but the clue package seemed to support the idea. There were a few moments that pointed to Ginuwine’s upbringing and his current life. Plus, he definitely has the vocals to sing a Luther Vandross song.
George Washington statue from Week 1: The clue package focused on a miniature statue of President George Washington. Ginuwine was born in Washington, D.C. His real name is also Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, after NBA star Elgin Baylor, who is also from Washington, D.C.
“My kids and grandkids told me I was supposed to hang it up” from Week 1: Although the panel assumed Robopine was lying about his age, there's reason to believe he was telling the truth. Contestants are often vague, but they don't generally lie to the judges. Robopine mentioned children and grandchildren. Ginuwine is a grandfather, as evidenced by this picture of his new granddaughter on Instagram:
The roses from Week 3: A clue featuring roses could connect to The Bachelor franchise. While Ginuwine never appeared on the show, his debut album was titled Ginuwine...The Bachelor which featured the hit single “Pony.”
The throne from Week 3: In 2007, Ginuwine teamed up with fellow R&B singers Tyrese and Tank to create a music group called TGT. Their Grammy-nominated debut (and only) album was titled Three Kings. Royalty is definitely worthy of sitting on a throne.
Montell Jordan Is Robopine
Jordan’s name has been tossed around on this show for multiple seasons, but this was the first time the masked contestant’s voice seemed to match Jordan’s tone. The “This Is How We Do It” singer stepped away from the music industry in 2010 to become a worship leader, but he briefly returned to sing his hit on American Idol in 2019. It was enough evidence to suggest he might be angling for another comeback.
Robopine's height and size: The panel usually guesses Jordan whenever a tall person steps on the stage. It makes sense considering Jordan is 6’8”. Robopine’s height and body type resemble Jordan’s tall build.
“60 years old and I really appreciate the love” from Week 1: Contestants typically do not give away crucial evidence after their performances, so it was surprising that Robopine dropped a clue as major as his age. The panel didn't believe him, which is reasonable, but was possible that Robopine could be close to 60. Jordan is currently 52.
Robopine's entrance in Week 1: Robopine made a flashy entrance when he strutted onto The Masked Singer stage for the first time. Nash asked him a question, and he addressed the men in black, who replied at the same time. The men in black’s uniformed response mirrors call-and-response interactions that are characteristic of Black fraternities; Jordan became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at USC in the '80s.
Joe Is Robopine
After Robopine’s performance, the panel was convinced he was an older R&B singer like Lionel Richie. They were on the right path with the genre, but Robopine is likely younger because he mentioned dialing 4-1-1 at the start of his career, which brought us to R&B musician Joe.
DNA from Week 1: During the clue package, there were multiple strands of DNA displayed on buildings. The double helixes could be a nod to Joe’s third album called My Name is Joe, which has the hit songs “Stutter” and “I Wanna Know.” He released his most recent album in 2016 and it is titled My Name is Joe Thomas.
“Never Too Much” performance from Week 1: Robopine chose an ambitious song for his first performance by singing “Never Too Much” by legendary singer Luther Vandross. A contestant would not choose that well-known song unless they were a skilled singer like Joe.