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Atlanta's Season 4 Episode 3: D'Angelo & The Industrialization of The Human Spirit

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

The fourth season of Atlanta is on its 3rd episode and it just keeps getting better every week.

The 808s & Heartbreak influence on this season continues, this season is very much centered around mental health with the second episode being about a therapy session, with this episode featuring another death, and how the industry affects the mental health of artists and managers.

Episode 3 centers around the concept of Artist vs Industry, the gentrification of culture, & the effects of the industrialization of the human spirit,

The first episode of the season featured the death of the rapper Blue Blood, which came up again this episode. Blue blood was not a popular rapper, but he was the rappers favourite rapper, and yet nobody knew about his death until months after his death, only 5 people showed up to his funeral, and he had a very low ceiling in terms of financial success or popularity. Paperboy being a rapper himself began contemplating the idea of the ceiling of his career, of his legacy, his financial situation and his longevity. We find out that Paperboy is currently selling out arenas and he's trying to figure out whats next for him.

This show is hilarious but it can get really deep without you even noticing it until you really think about it. I was lost after episode three, I didn’t really know what it meant, this was one of the more surreal dreamlike episodes while also being very concrete and real. The episode explores the concept of Art vs Industry through Paperboy and Earns separate narrative threads which are two sides of the same coin. We get to see a little more into the industry and management side of the music industry when Alfred becomes a manager to a Young White Avatar, and Earn starts working in a new PR Firm and tries to recruit D’Angelo.

Earn is working at a PR firm and one of their clients almost shot a black kid who was trying to sell cookies (this actually happened) which started to hurt her book sales, so the firm was brainstorming ideas to get rid of this scandal by framing the black kid, trying to bribe him, putting out crime reports about his neighborhood to make her seem justified. Earn who was visibly annoyed about this conversation asks if they could work on other clients, to which the firm responds no, so he asks if he could recruit a new talent and they told him it wouldn’t matter unless he can get someone high profile like Banksy or D’Angelo, Earn says he can get D’Angelo which sets him on this insane dreamlike week long quest of trying to see D’Angelo.

Earn went into a dungeon next to public bathrooms at a Rally’s fast food restaurant with the word D’Angelo on the front door. The room was like a prison cell with blood on the floor, & a guy sitting in front of a safe door reading a book. Earn kept asking if he could see D’Angelo but the man wouldn’t respond until a week later when Earn finally snaps after being offered Dasani water, first he asks what is a D’Angelo, then he says We Are D’Angelo, and then he finally asks if he could experience D’Angelo. It is then that the man opens a trap door/vent at a wall and Earn climbs through to see a man with braids, singing How Can You Mend a broken Heart by Al Green and eating a peanut butter, fried chicken skin and seasoning sandwich.

The man explains to Earn how D’Angelo is a complex network of men, women and D'Angelos spread across countries, Earth and light, as he rubbed peanut butter on his forehead like Rafiki did to Simba. The fake D’Angelo asks Earn if the PR Firm that wants to sign D’Angelo would actually be worthy of D’Angelo’s presence. He then tells Earn about his dream that the show has been discussing since the first episode, with hands that are pulling Earn down into the water, he asks him why he’s so sure the hands intend to harm him. Earn thanks the D’Angelo experience and leaves.

Alfred on the other hand manages a YWA which is a Young White Avatar, named Yodel Kid (an ode to the Walmart yodel kid) who ends up dying of a drug overdose and winning a grammy.

After performing at a bar mitzvah, Paperboy is approached by a man who offers him a million dollars to teach his son his mannerisms so that his son could be a successful rapper. When he gets to the studio Paperboy finds a bunch of rich white kids that don’t even know who he is, except for yodel kid, making mediocre gentrified music.

Benny, the son of the man who “bought” Paperboy tells Alfred he could just chill out in the studio and collect a check while him and his friends make music. It’s then that Paperboy is approached by another rapper who tells him that he should be making more money by signing these artists, he takes him to a meeting where they explain to Paperboy that his career has hit a ceiling due to his age, skin colour and content.

Street rappers don’t really sell out stadiums, they told him that he won’t be able to afford his lifestyle very soon and that he needs to get into managing white kids in order to make any real money, unless he wants to end up like Blue Blood or as Ice Cubes best friend in Are We There Yet 5.

YWA + a Grammy = money was the calculation. Paperboy ends up signing Yodel Kid after Benny is stolen by the rapper from the studio, Paperboy manages to get him nominated for a Grammy but Yodel Kid ends up dying and winning a Grammy.

Paperboy, Earn and Darius meet up at a bar after the Grammys looking suited up but disheveled. Earn congratulates Al but Alfred asks Earn how he does it because managing artists makes him feel sick. Earn tells him he just reminds himself it’s not about what feels good, it’s about what survives. Earn leaves for work, Darius leaves to a party and Al sits at a bar questioning where he is in his life and career and that’s where the episode ends.

This episode highlights the different routes the characters have taken and the reasons for them. Alfred is an artist, he was dealing drugs before he became an artist. Alfred has always followed what feels good, he hasn’t really been in survival mode because he’s had money, he would smoke weed and make music, D