HBO’s ‘Chillin Island’ features four Atlanta rappers: Lil Yachty, Killer Mike, Young Thug, Gunna

Young Thug joins the members of "Chillin' Island" on HBO. HBO

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Young Thug joins the members of "Chillin' Island" on HBO. HBO

The unusual travel-type show is narrated by Steven Wright.

“Chillin Island” is not your typical travel show.

The new HBO program is not at all about about highlighting specific places. In fact, the locations the three hosts and their guests go to aren’t even disclosed.

Rather, this is philosophical and literal escape from the norm, a way to explore discomfort, nature and possibly a higher plane of existence. The entire low-key “chill” vibe is personified by the narrator: monotonal stand-up comic Steven Wright.

New York rap personalities Alec “Despot” Reinstein, Ashok “Dap” Kondabolu, and Aleksey “Lakutis” Weintraub have been talking hip-hop via an unusual underground radio show for more than a decade. HBO signed them on to translate radio to TV for six episodes, four of which feature Atlanta hip-hop stars: Lil Yachty, Killer Mike, Young Thug and Gunna.

“I don’t think it is a travel show,” Reinstein said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If anything, it’s about sort of traveling within yourself.”

Reinstein and his friends had been pondering a TV show for years. “We tried out various iterations but didn’t find something we felt good about,” he said. He then watched a short-lived cult Bravo show “Fishing With John” hosted by John Lurie, who took celebrity friends like Matt Dillon, Dennis Hopper and Willem Dafoe on offbeat fishing expeditions despite the fact Lurie knew zip about fishing.

These three men are not outdoorsmen either so “Chillin Island” takes on many of the same elements as “Fishing With John.” “We want to take people out of their element and see what comes out of them,” Reinstein said.

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Deadpan comedian Steven Wright is still delivering surreal statements and mind bending answers to wacky questions after more than 30 years in stand-up comedy. Photo Credit: Jorge Rios.

Credit: HANDOUT

Deadpan comedian Steven Wright is still delivering surreal statements and mind bending answers to wacky questions after more than 30 years in stand-up comedy. Photo Credit: Jorge Rios.

Credit: HANDOUT

Combined ShapeCaption
Deadpan comedian Steven Wright is still delivering surreal statements and mind bending answers to wacky questions after more than 30 years in stand-up comedy. Photo Credit: Jorge Rios.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Young Thug was totally into the journey as they wander a desert setting in the first episode. The opening scene shows the three hosts flipping over a dune buggy. “Young Thug arrived on set immediately afterwards,” Reinstein said. “We were dazed.”

Lil Yachty explores a swamp, which Wright calls on the show “the toilet bowl of the Gods.” One of the guides helping them out calls him “Yachter.”

“He was amazed anyone would willfully do this stuff in the swamp,” Reinstein said.

New York rapper Lil Tecca and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig battle the sea. And Killer Mike and Gunna joined the gang this past Friday.

“You look like the Christian camping coalition,” Killer Mike said when he first sees the trio. But he was not game at all with venturing into the outdoors.

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The members of "Chillin Island" with Killer Mike (second from right). HBO Max

Credit: HBO Max

The members of "Chillin Island" with Killer Mike (second from right). HBO Max

Credit: HBO Max

Combined ShapeCaption
The members of "Chillin Island" with Killer Mike (second from right). HBO Max

Credit: HBO Max

Credit: HBO Max

Instead, he retreats and allows Gunna to take over in his “backyard the size of a small city,” Wright narrated. “I think I speak for all of us when I say I’m very impressed.”

His backyard, in fact, features a herd of cows. They end up trying to fish and the three hosts enter a tent. That’s when the episode gets super surreal because they end up at the Blue Flame strip club with Killer Mike, leaving Gunna behind in the woods.

Reinstein had grander plans for travel locales like Iceland and Hawaii but “the reality of budgets and schedules” intervened, he said. “It ended up being dictated more by proximity to where the guests were and where they could go. We had to tailor it to them.”

He was also thrilled to nab Wright as narrator.

“I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was a kid,” Reinstein said. “My dad would watch his little shorts. And I speak in a pretty deadpan tone so in a way this is like the architect of my vocal style. Not that I do this intentionally. I just talk this way.”

>>RELATED: My interview with Wright from 2018

The season finale airs Jan. 28 and the series to date is available on demand on HBO Max.

ON TV

“Chillin Island”

10:30 p.m. Fridays on HBO through Jan. 28 and available on demand on HBO Max