I’m finding it hard to say much about Donald Glover’s latest masterpiece, the approximate 1-hour film co-starring Rihanna — Guava Island.
As you probably know by now this weekend, after a stellar headlining performance at Coachella, the mysterious, near-secret project Glover and Rihanna were evidently working on together last year in Cuba is now on Amazon Prime.
The thing is: it’s really better knowing the least about Guava Island as you can before watching it. I, for one, sort of messed up by catching a Reddit thread with the “unofficial soundtrack” and being unable to resist a bootleg-captured scene from the film with the two A-listers (and I’ll leave it at that.)
So alas: I won’t say anything other than it’s phenomenal, captivating, and repeating that Guava Island is a masterpiece. Props to Glover and his familiar cast of collaborators, director Hiro Murai, producer Ludwig Goransson, and choreographer Sherrie Silver.
For after viewing: read this Twitter thread that explores the connections between Guava Island and much of Glover’s other works. Definitely makes you think.
Talk about stimulation overload. Complex Con had it all last weekend in Long Beach and as a first-timer, I was simply blown away by the creativity, art, and fashion all on display. In fact, it took me a full week just to sift through everything and continue to reflect about the positive impact and community throughout the two days. Here’s just some of many highlights.
For those unaware, Complex Con is basically the hotbed marketplace for the hip hop culture. Users are first treated to an endless space of brand activations from the biggest names in streetwear and your favorite sneaker companies – all trying to outdo one another.
Around the convention center is a full stage and venue for music performances, an outdoor area for the best LA food trucks and pop-up spots, and my personal favorite: auditoriums for #ComplexConversations — where Complex conducted panel discussions and showcased their original programming (from Hot Ones to Real Late with Peter Rosenberg).
The conversations ranged from Sneaker of the Year to an analysis and communal endeavor to improve upon society’s ills today. All of it inspiring, especially the latter if you can imagine. Here’s a succinct example via the young jedi Jaden Smith:
One more #ComplexCon gem that simply has to be shared and shared.
Skim below for some more #content. I had some fun creating a couple Insta Stories for each day.
Day 1 features some snaps of the Complex Con scene, Takashi x OVO, the Sneaker of the Year Panel with Allen Iverson, and even yours truly and Maksim Presence (peep that Gary Vee interview!)
…and Day 2 features a bunch of celebrity cameos (everyone from Nas to Karreuche to Dennis Rodman) and concludes with some more gems from Jaden Smith.
And now for some photos! All of the below is via @Complex.
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Let’s conclude this with The Answer. Complex posted this fascinating sit-down interview for 24 minutes as A.I. shares stories with Michael Jordan, Biggie, and how he even came up with some fashion and sneaker trends.
Thank you Complex Con! We’ll be back again next year. 🙏
Lupe’s a genius storyteller, guys. I mean, we all knew that. But I’m still amazed at not one, but two tracks across Drogas Waves that reimagine the lives of newborns taken too soon and too tragically.
Speaking of Genius, after the first couple of listens on your own, you’ll want to follow along, song-by-song and pick up references like this one (via our own @hetalbot). Lupe continues to reference Canada in Alan’s reimagined story because his family wanted asylum in Canada. And the more references like that you catch, the more we see that next-level where only Lupe resides.
“Jonylah Forever”, after Jonylah Watkins, a 6-month old baby tragically succumbing to crossfire gunshots, was originally released shortly after her death in 2013.
The one reference I didn’t catch until five years later was the Jimmy Neutron/neutron term for not being gang affiliated in Chicago.
Sadly, “Jonylah” has even more of a somber tone and now I have the feels all over again. There’s much more I want to write about the album as I, still a week later, want to continue to digest. Until then, sit back, and listen to these back to back (and out of order). Maybe the connection will be even clearer…
September is full of hot new albums and one not to overlook, especially for a different vibe, is ZHU’s Ringo’s Desert.
It’s not as totally upbeat as ZHU’s early releases, but it still has some of those elements off the top. Great riding music.
A couple of cuts I’ve found myself going back to all month: “Ghost In My Bed” and “Waters of Monaco”. Both kind of take a little bit to get going but once they do… (or after a couple listens at least…)