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Atlanta Recap Season 4 Episode 3: ‘Born 2 Die’

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Atlanta

born 2 die

season 4

Episode 3

Editor’s Rating

5 stars

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Photo: FX

In last season’s “New Jazz”, Al faces a guardian angel of sorts in the form of Lauren, a gorgeous young woman who bears the same name as his mother. As “Lorraine” leads Al through Amsterdam while he’s blasting off a space bun, his line of questioning makes him reflect on his status as a black rap artist. The title of the episode is a clear reference to the fact that rap became the new jazz, mirroring each other almost identically in terms of popularity, ethnic origins, and ultimately unfair commodification of the art form. Black musicians of the jazz age were often exploited by white music executives who knew how popular and profitable black music was. The blues singer of Big Bill Broonzy once said in the 1920s, “I didn’t get any royalties, because I knew nothing about trying to claim no money, see?”

I take it tonight Atlanta to be a continuation of “New Jazz” and its themes of control, power, and ultimately who “owns” the culture, especially since that episode ended with Al discovering that Earn had negotiated full ownership of the Paper Boi Masters upon signing a record deal. Although Al is now in season four earning a significant amount of money in the wake of his tour and has the security of owning his own music catalog, he is beginning to realize that there may be a limit to his current success after meeting fellow rappers in the same predicament. After a performance at a bar mitzvah, Benny’s father approaches the white rapper and asks if he can teach his son how to be a rapper. He asks Al how to make his expressions and behavior “real”. Al turns down the offer until the father offers him $1 million to work with his son in the studio.

When Al arrives at the studio, it initially appears to be the typical situation for the rich, white, and desperate kids of the culture: There’s a white boy chords to the rhythms of the dirt and there’s a song recorded by Lil’ Rick called “Ricky Rock” featuring verses like “I cheat, I dance, I press” , I’m kindled.” Lil manager Rick Bunk joins him in the studio and asks Al if he wants to escape for real conversation. They talk nonsense about the little boys helping them, then Punk tells Al he should win ten million instead of one. He invites Al to an upcoming meeting with other like-minded people in the same situation, which begins with a leader saying, “If you’re here, it means you care about your future.” It talks about how rap alone doesn’t get you real money – the kind of money that separates the rich from the rich. He talks about that rap is about optics, which means white people will continue to make more money. He then proposes a system for acquiring and mentoring YWA, aka Young White Gods, just like the kids Al was with in the studio. Target? Get these kids Grammys and get some coins.

Al rejects the idea of ​​having to rely on YWA to preserve his fortune, arguing that he can just make another album himself and use the leverage to go on another tour. Bunk closes this argument, saying “Nobody wants to hear you…because you’re too old. You can never be older than your last album.” They went on with a slideshow of the three stages of the rap game, from street rappers, to OG, to someone who works in family movies. Bunk tells him there’s no more room for Paper Boi to grow now that he’s achieved the stardom required for the ring tours. He is right. There are only too many Jay-Zs in one generation. The prophecy is already writing itself because, as Bunk points out, the kids in the studio had no idea who the Paper Boi character was. Unconvinced, Al says people are having sex with him because he’s talking about the streets, to which the meeting leader replies, “The streets can’t feed you. Do you want to end up like Blue Bloods? I loved that nigga and didn’t even know he had an album He was in the ground for five months.”

Jordan Taliha MacDonald in season three compares Al Aliyah’s journey through “The New Jazz” to a dance called The Walk that originated on plantations as a contest between slaves being judged by their slaves. MacDonald included this quote from Amiri Baraka: “If the picnic is a certain caricatured nigger dance of white customs, what is that dance, when, say, the white theater troupe tries to parody it as a nigger dance?” This quote stayed in my head for the duration of this episode; I kept thinking about how a lot of rap culture has turned into black rappers caricatures of some white habits (obscene wealth, capitalism, gun violence, etc.) Like blacks who desperately want the power of whites. AtlantaDoing what is best, takes it a step further and subverts the stereotype of white CEOs exploiting black artists.

Al continues to try to sign Benny as a client, as he performs on one of his high school shows. However, it turns out that Bunk pounced on Benny, adding him to his customers before Al could. Yodel Kidd from the studio is in for a performance, ridiculously loud, and ends up giving him a ride home. Fast forward to Grammy season, where we see Al attend a party with Bunk and some other YWA managers. Bunk asks Al if he’s been nominated for anything, but Al reveals that not Paper Boi has been nominated, but his new client: Yodel Kid. With Al’s help, the trap trap went platinum in three weeks. Unable to get Yodel Kid, Al Benny asks if he’s seen his friend, and Benny informs him of the unfortunate news of Yodel Kid’s fatal overdose. But according to Penny, the good news is that he could potentially win a Grammy. And of course, it is.

In a separate story, Earn goes on a mission to sign R&B singer D’Angelo to the management company he works for. He decides to try signing with the artist after his boss requests an emergency deck to help provide damage control for an author caught in the Ring footage pulling a gun on a black teen trying to fundraise. Earn says he’d rather sign a new artist than help rename the racist author. He texts someone who might know D’Angelo’s braided hair and directs it to Rally’s. The bathrooms at the fast-food chain have one door that says “employees only” and the other that says simply “D’Angelo.” Across from D’Angelo’s door is a concrete room eerily reminiscent of a prison cell with a crib on the floor covering a bloodstain, chalk on the wall, and a man seated guard in front of an ornate door. Days go by, but Earn is still determined, spending time chalking graffiti, reading, and throwing a ball against the wall. When he asks to earn water, the guard points to a random locker containing a lone packet of Dasani. Yes, Dasani. To be expected to drink Dasani water after days of captivity is a cruel and unusual punishment and I will not explain further.

Dasani (rightly) irritates Eren, who shouts, “Where’s D’Angelo? Can I please see D’Angelo??” He sits back and says, “What is D’angelo? We are D’Angelo. Let me try, D’Angelo.” “. Apparently, these are the magic words as the silent guard opens the door to reveal a tunnel that leads to an apartment with a man making a sandwich while listening to Al Green, claiming to be, you guessed it, D’Angelo. Well, not exactly D’Angelo, but D’Angelo’s “experience” that claims people don’t deserve a real singer. The man says that D’Angelo is really just “a complex network of men, women and D’Angelo scattered across countries,” and that Earn has proven himself worthy, then wipes some peanut butter from a sandwich across Earn’s forehead. “D’Angelo” Earn reminds of a dream Earn had when he was eight where he swims and under water there are two hands clinging to reach him, but he fights to stop them from dragging him down. He asks, “Why are you so sure the hands intend to hurt you?” Other than this notion that resonates with my anxiety and my inability to ask for or receive help, the entire scene is meaningless, like the best scenes in Atlanta be.

I’m not sure if D’Angelo’s scene is meant to make us question what black music is if not a shared experience with a few select characters leading the way; a metaphor for celebrity cults and hoops we jump through for stargazing; Or maybe something else entirely. But I look forward to hearing different theories from viewers. This is the Atlanta I missed last season, Atlanta This would make me think for days and become an active participant in art even when it made me feel uncomfortable or confused. Because, as Eren said, “It’s not about what feels good, it’s about what survives.”

• During a YWA meeting, an attendee serves an Al plate of Oreo cookies. Instead of the traditional Oreo, they had one chocolate cookie and one vanilla cookie surrounding the cream. They reminded me of my reflections surrounding the Baraka picnic quote and how black culture and white culture conflict and are intertwined together.

• Benny referred to “Al” as the man his father “bought” which made me laugh. The irony of such terminology along with the way his father approached Al in the first place is a reminder that in many ways whites still viewed black as a commodity rather than a culture born of real humans.

• One of my past favorites Atlanta From the episodes that revealed that Justin Bieber is black. In tonight’s episode, Chief Keef remains a well-known rapper as he is in real life, but on the show, he ventured into the Ice Cube territory by acting in family movies. Personally, I would love to see Chief Keef facing off with perhaps Nicole Behari in a movie about a rapper turned family man.