Low Key


Let's Talk 'Guava Island,' Where Donald Glover Meets Bob Marley (and Rihanna's There, Too)

Season 1, Ep. 28

Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) lures us to the beautiful, fictional "Guava Island" for his new Amazon film of the same name, and we're delighted to be there.

On this week's episode of the Low Key Podcast, we talk about the politics of Guava Island -- the place and the film -- as well as our thoughts about Glover's work overall, especially FX's "Atlanta." We also talk about how we wish Glover's "Guava Island" co-star, Rihanna, had a little more to do, and why Red (Nonso Anozie) is such a good villain.

"Guava Island" is the story of a singer who dreams of putting on a festival to bring joy to the people he loves. It reminds us a little of Bob Marley's 1976 "Smile Jamaica" concert -- which almost got Bob Marley killed. Two days before the performance, would-be killers shot Bob Marley in the chest and his wife Rita Marley in the head. They also shot his manager, Don Taylor, and band employee Louis Griffiths. Miraculously, everyone survived, and Marley put on a legendary concert that began with the song "War."

The story of Bob Marley surviving the assassination attempt is the subject of Marlon James' novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings," winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It has inspired a TV series which will soon appear on Amazon -- the same place that brought us Guava Island.

More Episodes


Do the Right Thing

Season 1, Ep. 67
Today’s episode revisits the 1989 classic that put Spike Lee on the map, Do the Right Thing. Over 30 years later, the film’s raw depiction of racial relations in Bedstuy remains controversial - every group feels aggrieved, lashing out with both words and actions. By the time the film is over, one could make a strong case that no one did the right thing. The bubbling tension under the surface during the hottest day of the summer explodes into a riot that feels unavoidable once 911 is dialed.Lee refused the urge to give the audience simple good versus bad character depictions. Singular characters act on their righteous impulses but are often guided by misplaced, unspoken misunderstandings. By the time Mookie throws the trash can through Sal’s pizzeria, his actions are about more than simply the death of Radio Rahim. The audience is given several reasons Mookie could be at the end of his rope with Sal and his family from Pino’s liberal use of the n-word to Sal’s supposed flirtation with his sister - Mookie’s frustration is macro and micro, legitimate and illegitimate.Although Do the Right Thing takes place almost entirely on one neighborhood block in 1989, it represented situations happening nationwide. Gentrifying neighbors and passersbys still have the same tense interactions with the black and brown youth today.. No wonder the film continues to resonate in the summer of 2020 as Black Lives Matter protests continue.Do the Right Thing is available for rent today on several streaming platforms.Episode Breakdown0:48 - Where did ‘Sweet Dick Willy’ get his name from?1:50 - Themes echoing in the modern day5:05 - Is Mookie a passive character?11:36 - Does anyone do the right thing?16:50 - Radio Rahim’s intimidating presence and killing21:00 - Real life police brutality comparisons23:15 - The shock of police brutality, camera phones, and Black Lives Matter31:40 - Mookie’s future and parenting in the film35:50 - Closing thoughts