Earn and others noted in the previous episode that Alfred’s run as Paper Boi was starting to gain more traction in the hip-hop world. While this isn’t enough for him to have a major record deal or tour dates, it has brought him to the level where navigating his daily life has become a greater challenge, mostly in weed-selling endeavors. Since Paper Boi ain’t all over the airwaves just let, Al needs to have this side hustle to allow himself to keep pushing forward, but the people of Atlanta are making it anything but easy.
I appreciate that Atlanta shows this side of the story as most up-and-coming rappers don’t manage a lucky score with a single and get propelled to stardom. They have to traverse the back roads first and that’s what most of Alfred’s story this week is. After being robbed by his previously reliable weed plug due to the fact that his plug believes Al will just make the money back from rap, Al has to find a new supplier. Since Darius apparently has a endless network of connections in Atlanta, this seems like a simple task. As they find out however, is that everyone wants something from Paper Boi and his fame before business can continue: be it a simple Instagram photo or being forced to suffer through a acoustic version of one of his own songs by the supplier’s girlfriend. Alfred ends the episode still without a new plug, so a new line of income is unsure.
The rap aspect of his life is also heading forward with mixed results. Earn and Al head to a Spotify stand-in for meetings on how to further the reach of Paper Boi. They quickly discover that the office is primarily filled with white people who simply leech off black culture to gain profit. They make artists phone it in when it comes to making playlist bumpers and perform in front of non-interested office rooms so they can gauge their talents. Al sees this and knows it’s not the path he wants to follow, he doesn’t want to become a sell-out just to make it in the industry, so he cuts the process off before it’s finished. This also shows a contrast between Earn and Al as Earn seems to understand the vibe of the place is off, but thinks it to be a necessary evil. At the end of the episode where they are met with a Yoohoo tv ad put out by a rapper they met at the office, Al thinks it’s wack and degrading, while Earn digs it and believes it’s genius. It’s a further sign of a potential fallout between the cousins that I really hope doesn’t happen, but business is business.
On Earn’s side of the episode, he makes a come-up in a way I was never expecting to actually pay off. Since Atlanta likes to have each episode have almost nothing to do with the previous, I was shocked when Darius hands Earn an envelope with $4000 in it from the breeding and selling of the Cane Corso back in episode 4 of season 1. Earn is obviously very excited about this money, but Tracy (Al’s fresh out of prison roommate), states he could double that $4000 through the use of a gift card scheme. I don’t exactly know how this works or why Earn decides to go through with it, but off he goes with Tracy to the mall since Tracy needs to head there anyway to prepare for a job interview. After a hilarious moment of Tracy teaching Earn about the No Chase Policy a lot of stores have to follow in case of a stealing customer, he leaves Earn to himself with a gift card.
Earn barely makes it a purchase before Tracy quickly texts him and lets him know the mall is onto him and he doesn’t have much time before they shut off the gift card. Cut to Earn outside the mall with several purchases he had to hastily make to avoid losing out on any money. He also discovers that Tracy has bailed on him as he had to make it to his interview on time. Earn seems like a smart guy in most cases, so I’m not sure why he trusted anything out of Tracy in this instance, though this has hopefully made him aware of how to progress in the future. Despite Tracy being somewhat of a sketchy person here, I still think he’s an interesting addition to the show and I hope he continues to make appearances.
Speaking of which, to cap out the misfortune to a trifecta, we see Tracy at his interview. He’s surrounded by white people and you can already sense in the air that this isn’t going to pan out for him. He’s called inside for the interview and decides to finally whip out the waves he’s been cooking up in his hair for this entire episode as he believed it would spice up his appearance and get him the job easily. Sadly for Tracy, the decision was basically decided as soon as he walked into the interview room, be it his ex-con status, his lack of experience in the job, or more simply: he’s black. The interviewer informs Tracy they aren’t currently hiring, despite there obviously being ongoing interviews (There were other people in the waiting room for Christ sake…). With this, Tracy relinquishes his calm, white serving demeanor and rants to the man about how racist he is, making sure to knock some shit over for emphasis.
“Sportin’ Waves” was a lesson in failures. Al has to find new plugs after his trusted plug takes part in some Robbin’ Season antics, but ends up failing to do so because of his blossoming fame. He also refuses to sell-out and increase his fame, which can be seen as a positive rather than a negative, but it also will make the journey harder for him. Earn comes up on the most money we’ve seen him with this entire series, but has to burn it all on unnecessary purchases after taking part in Tracy’s gift card scheme. And Tracy discovers how hard it is to find a job when you’re black and a ex-con. The only person who really makes it out of this episode unchanged is Darius and that’s because…he’s Darius.
Sportin’ Waves – 4 out of 5
- The Cane Corso subplot actually paying off from a previous episode last season.
- Tracy is a good addition to the show.
- That Yoohoo commercial jingle is actually kinda catchy, I’m with Earn on this one.
- Al has some great reaction faces this episode, more so than usual.
- Still no Van. I think I’ve seen that she’ll be in the next episode though.