Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

The Scene: “Guava Island” emphasizes the power of music

Art is a poignant expression of identity and culture that brings a sense of freedom from the wretchedness of the world. Music is one of the forms that holds a precious piece for all people. The sound, instruments, energy and connection we make with one another breed an atmosphere of unity that cannot be broken.  

“Guava Island” embodies these elements of art and the power of music. Donald Glover’s musical film was released on April 13 on Amazon Prime Video, co-starring pop star Rihanna. It is the story of Deni Maroon, played by Glover, who is a musician on Guava island who wants to throw a festival for its townspeople. Rihanna plays Kofi, a seamstress and an inspiration for Maroon’s music and his unrelenting desire to leave the island with her. 

The island is run by “Red,” who capitalizes off the island’s magical blue silkworms and changes the island from a paradise galore to an industrial machine. When news is heard about Maroon’s festival, Red tries to prevent it to not disrupt productivity in the factories and ultimately, his stronghold on the island. 

A battle of class, capitalism and the silence of expression takes hold on the island. Red’s army wears red and the working class wears blue,while Deni and Kofi wear red and blue as they live on the fringes of both classes. Deni is a singer who uses the radio to help bring encouragement even while the town feels trapped and exploited for their resources. 

Deni’s last name, Maroon, is derived from the name given to runaway slaves in the Caribbean and Latin America who would also go back to their plantations to free their family members and friends — a symbolic explanation to Deni’s own reluctance to cancel his festival. The music he plays brings hope when the town does not see it in front of them. His music is a threat to Red’s power as it liberates the Guava people and creates their own sense of strength.  

While Deni wants to leave with Kofi, he still holds the island dear to his heart. He knows the festival is a double-edged sword because it will be the light that keeps the people moving forward, a time to forget about their problems for a moment and bask in the glory of their beautiful country, while also causing friction between the Guava people and Red as they grow agitated with their current conditions. 

Guava Island was a paradise of culture and love that was overtaken and exploited for its resources and simultaneously stripped of its identity. Deni is the hero, the martyr and the resurrection of a voice for people who had been silenced.  He uses his music to free the people of Guava Island from the chains of oppression and allows them to become agents of their own freedom and gatekeepers of their culture and land. 

Kamal Morgan, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at

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