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As someone whose barber tried to sell him Js after a haircut (what's up Headquarters Barbershop in Vicksburg, Mississippi), I don't think it's possible for me to relate to any episode from this season more than the one that aired tonight.

I miss having to wait until consecutive music videos on BET Soul ended so my barber could go back to finishing a 20 minute haircut in 45 minutes.

Bibby is a goddamn legend.

"...we ate at that white lady's house.."

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I once had my barber try to do install somebody's car stereo in the middle of my haircut.  He once cut my hair during a party at his house...like a bunch of people were at his drinking and having a good time, and I'm sitting in the middle of it getting my haircut.  I'm not saying he's the type of person who would go to a construction site and steal a bunch of lumber, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he went to a construction site and stole a bunch of lumber.  I've heard him yell at his kids in a way that was way crazy uncomfortable.  I can't even start to count the amount of time he's just got distracted by something on TV and stopped my haircut, sat down, and started asking questions so he can catch up on whatever he missed while he was cutting my hair.  He's cut my hair since I was 14, I'm 36...he doesn't even work in a shop anymore.  I just go to his house.  He has a dog that I'm sure would kill me if I got too close.  He's a dude I've known for most of my life at this point.  When my mom was getting her 2nd Masters she would give his daughter a ride back from school when she wanted to come back home for a weekend.  He's the least dependable person I know, but he's also given me last minute haircuts when I had an interview.  He called my mom from time to time when she was battling cancer.  I don't even know how to look for a new barber, not that I'd want to, but I swear that dude can be infuriating.  

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I'm cool with my barber now since I've moved to Bentonville, but this dude has a gang of kids and also a semi dangerous gambling addiction. The guy that usually comes in after me brings his four sons (who are probably between the ages of 8 and 14) up there so they can get their haircut in between their games all across town and Northwest Arkansas. All this guy and my barber talk about is sports their children play (football, basketball, and soccer). This goes especially if there is no game of any sort on the TV or the NFL reg. season isn't going on at that moment so they can talk about fantasy.

Ain't no way in the hell I'm going to my barber's house for a haircut only so I can be involved in a pee wee football gambling ring like Miami had some years ago. 

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So, I feel like I want to talk about last night's episode...except I have no idea what to say about last night's episode.

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Watching it now. Really weird and interesting.

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For some reason, I like to think this is a weird karma effect of Donald's relationship with FX that somehow was manifested by this episode. FX put a whole lot of muscle in the Feud: Bette and Joan series last year and Atlanta does an Obsession meets What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? meets whatever random film noir flick from sixty years ago spoof. I liked to think this is a big dig at white Hollywood nostalgia or entertainment nostalgia in general. I say that because of the Jay Z line where Benny talks about hip hop never growing out of its adolescence and Darius says we got Jay-Z and he's like 65. I was listening to a radio program tonight where someone brought that line up in regards to their topic (FWIW black people who are from Generation X still obsessed w/ Diddy, Jay Z, etc.), and then it kinda helped me put this all together. I think it's too easy to look it as a blanket look at fatherhood in relationship to black people's fame using the Jackson family dynamic. Granted, Bibby's kid said he was going to be the next Lonzo Ball last week.

I think parenthood just one branch of what this episode is getting at. I think Teddy Perkins was basically an examination of people not understanding what they love and the great lengths it takes to get there along with everything that surrounds it. I would use the example of every independent or former major label R&B artist in the last 10 or 15 years using the phrase "yeah, we're going back to doing old school R&B on this one" to promote their album. No one says "yeah, we're going to do something completely new no one has ever heard". Hence, why you have someone like Bruno Mars who might as well be doing karaoke as a top artist on the Hip Hop and R&B charts. You juxtapose that with some young white kid like Lil Xan saying 2pac is boring (I would even bring up Lonzo saying nobody really listens to Nas). People believe it's either one extreme or another: you're either riffing off something extremely old and can pass it off as new or you're awful with your original, uninspired content.  Recycling the classic old content is the "safe pick" yet it is born of folks who had rocky upbringings, drug addictions, personal struggles, depression, etc. However, people don't care as long as they get it not knowing it's virtually impossible to recreate those moments. You can't say it's ridiculous members of Wu-Tang are still talking about selling drugs in their 50s and then wait for bated breath for the Jay-Z tour pre-sale just so he can give you nonsensical advice about having credit. One thing is as useless as the other, yet the unconscious reason for this is you still support Jay-Z's material from years and years ago from a different era more than Wu-Tang Forever and The W. You like what you like and that's the furthest your analysis goes, and that's problematic if you're black and you are basing your whole life's philosophy off a contradiction or the justification of a contradiction.

This episode reminds me of kinda what happened to Roger Troutman and Zapp. Roger Troutman was able to bring himself back (much like George Clinton and Charlie Wilson as well) by attaching himself with all these rap artists and their hit singles. It brought his music back along with that. However, the inherent problem that reared its ugly head since the music industry is its own snakepit was this whole renewed spotlight highlighted how much of a bad businessman Troutman was much like George Clinton's notorious cheapskate ways and various publishing rights fiascos have always haunted him no matter whether he was on drugs or off. Troutman had all the businesses he started and wasn't seeing any return on and his brother Larry was managing him. Yet, Roger is still getting money from the music under the table that nobody else was seeing. One disagreement with Larry leads to another, and then BOOM, a murder suicide robs us of one of our greatest's musical pioneers. On the surface level, it's cool to go back and listen to all the great songs but then you realize what was the end of the story because the Troutman family didn't have millions to sit on like a Jay-Z.

 

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OK, this is not really as much about the show, but then again this show leads to random tangents so maybe, it is about the show...

I think the reason that Jay-z in particular, but other 90s rappers stick people as they age, but don't have any relevance to younger people is that hip-hop's relevance is tied to the time that it was recorded more than any other artform.  If you ask someone who was in or around the dope game in the 80s or 90s, they have an affection for the stories Jay-z, Wu-Tang, Nas, etc. tell, because they are telling their story.  I grew up in a place where everyone was touched by the crack epidemic, whether they sold dope, smoked crack, were the child of a dealer or a user, or were friends or whatever.  We all knew those guys, they were our parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, friends, and associates.  Then you listen to Reasonable Doubt, and can recognize that all the braggadocio and celebration of the life style was really just a mask for the pain and guilt that these dudes were dealing with every single day.  They were given a world where work was limited, but "work" was abundant.  So they had to decide to either be noblely broke, or find another way to get paid.  One they made that decision to start selling drugs, they had to find a way to reconcile that decision.  That reconciliation is pretty much the theme of rap of that era.  On the surface it all sounds like people glorifying and celebrating the depravity, but if you dig into the lyrics it's clear that these guys aren't celebrating at all.  I was having a conversation with someone recently about how much darker the music of my teenage years is compared to the stuff out now.  He was telling me how his niece was wearing a Nirvana t-shirt, but had never heard any Nirvana.  So he played her some, and she was kind of put off by how bleak and hopeless it sounded.  So he was contemplating whether or not he should be happy she was well adjusted enough not to relate to Nirvana, or mad that she had bad taste in music.  I listened to Ready to Die recently, and listened to a lot of Mobb Deep after Prodigy died, and man that shit went to some deep dark places.  Those guys are tragic heroes as far as many rap fans go, and those stories really resonate to people who lived through that time.  

At some point, that reconciliation fell by the wayside, and we've got to the point where there is a lot of music celebrating depravity.  It is kind of like when Ice Cube left NWA and everything went from an over the top political satire to a cartoon version of hood life.  It's a subtle difference, but a significant difference.  Ice Cube's writing had more nuance, which helped balance out the over the top violence and misogyny in the lyrics.  When they lost him, they were never as poignant.  The amount of death that the previous generation had to deal with colored a lot of the music that we were listening to.  The murder rates in the 80s and early 90s were astronomical, and the music reflected that pain.  I can understand how someone can think that 2pac is boring if they never had to deal with the kind of pain and loss he was rapping about.  These new rappers live in a post crack era world.  They still have problems with drugs, but there is much more emphasis on being on drugs than reluctantly selling drugs.  I don't relate to a bunch of dudes in tight pants doing hard drugs, that isn't how my generation worked.  We grew up around dope fiends who we never wanted to be like.  The vast majority of my friends were scared shitless of any drug harder than weed.  I really don't know how this current generation of rap music is going to age, because I don't see how recreational drug use is going to age as a theme.

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I think one of the built in excuses for the lack of storytelling is that we live in a melting pot so everyone desires to have their own specific story to told. That or they desire to have something fun and energetic that's apolitical. When the whole Bruno Mars cultural appropriation thing happened, I heard someone bring up how the first wave of hip hop out of the Bronx and the surrounding areas was anti drug and partying w/o the drugs with a lot of the names being associated with a white party drug (Kurtis Blow, Busy Bee Starski, Kool Rock Ski). Then, eventually it became about drug dealing (and incarceration) but it was relevant because it was something new and mirrored more of black life under the Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations than living lavishly with no troubles in the world. You had dark songs like a Mind of a Lunatic by the Geto Boys (Willie D's verse in particular is as chilling now as it would've been three decades ago), which predated Biggie's Suicidal Thoughts by five or six years. Slowly but surely, it became about drug use and not a hooked on drugs but trying to get off way ala James Brown's King Heroin.

But I think the reason why Nirvana and the like were able to reach black people in some sort of way is it was extremely accessible in way most mainstream pop is. However, most of its rooted in black music. Kurt Cobain is out here doing Leadbelly songs and vocally sounds like Ritchie Havens. Dickey Betts drew out his inspiration out of Chuck Berry and whole bunch of black musicians to go along with his country music influence growing up. The UK scene in the late 50s and 60s brought a ton of old black bluesmen back in the forefront. Stevie Ray Vaughn's whole career is just cribbing off of black people, and I like SRV but it is what it is. If you don't understand the context of how everything is done, then your consumption is not really rooted in thought. A black girl in her early 20s wearing a sexy crop top with the Led Zeppelin logo is not going to understand how Led Zeppelin got sued out of the anus because they stole a lot of their music from black people. In the same way, they're not going to understand that a Young M.A. song is just there to sell Hennessy and Future is here to get over Molly and Percocet. Kodak Black is here to sell you Belaire. That's why you can fit ANY rapper now in the Clark County role on Atlanta and not just Chance the Rapper. We as black people don't have control over the music any longer much like we lost control over Jazz, Funk, R&B, and Blues. It's about promoting a super brand of capitalism. I saw a story this morning about Nas selling chicken and chicken sandwiches in ballparks. That's what it has come down to.

Look at all the stories coming out of Howard University over the last two or three years in addition to the recent Tyrone Hankerson stuff. A college that's struggling with funding and housing their students shouldn't have a style architect for the students. But Howard is a prestigious brand name as close to a real life Hillman College as possible so Howard Fashion is a thing. However, now, it's all about "securing the bag" and "finessing" people and wearing brand names clothes and driving foreign cars. The thing is every older generation before was saying how the new generation is living this poisonous and ruinous lifestyle. So are we picking at a scab and making it worse or are we just creating new wounds?

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Donald Glover was Teddy Perkins in creepy White Girls-esque makeup, right?

EDIT: Didn't even need to ask. Looks like he was. Also found this good article on the episode about about the Robbin' Season theme for the season. http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2018/04/the-real-meaning-behind-atlanta-teddy-perkins-episode

 

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19 hours ago, Elsalvajeloco said:

We as black people don't have control over the music any longer much like we lost control over Jazz, Funk, R&B, and Blues. 

This is the part I'll never understand.  After the Puffy, Master P, Jay and Dame, etc. era when everyone owned and  controlled their own shit (all of them had distribution deals with major labels, but that's it.), I will never understand why any rapper decided to sign with a major label.  This is a strange example, because he's white, but I was listening to an interview with Action Bronson a while back and he was talking about how he makes money rapping.  He pretty much outlined how he makes enough money on a random underground album that he puts on iTunes to completely pay for his New York condo.  He makes good money touring, but at the end of the interview he talked about signing to Atlantic, which baffled the hell out of me.  He pretty much owned all of his catalog, was talking about installing professional cooking equipment in his kitchen, and seemingly living the dream, and signed to a company that would take most of his profits.  There was another interview with The Lox talking about the issues they were having at Bad Boy.  The interviewer was joking about how bad their deal was, and how Puff was ganking them, and Styles cut him off and said, "No, our deal wasn't any worse than anyone's deal.  The issue wasn't Puff, it was that the industry standard is to sign people to deals that keep them broke."  That is something that I thought was figured out in the late 90s...but people keep doing it. I honestly thought that the cycle was going to be broken after we were watching Cribs and Master P had a house with a solid gold ceiling, but nope.

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You can't fix Capitalism and you can't fix stupid. Hell, the Big Boys made an album in the '80s called Industry Standard and nobody paid any attention. Speaking of which: 

 

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I like the idea that Teddy Perkins was a parody of the Ryan Murphy shows. I think the obvious comparisons to Michael are only kind of half true here. The template is there to invite the comparison, but I think it was almost designed as a trap to toy with the viewer. The common public perception of MJ as a creep or a joke was replaced with the notion that he was a tragic misunderstood figure who we collectively failed by ridiculing. Glover is using MJ as shorthand to get us to empathize with a sinister presence so that we can accept that maybe we wouldn't stick around, but we can forgive Darius for doing so.

It explores the very American phenomenon (not exclusive to the arts but very prevalent there) that productivity and success have to come from a place of pain, or at the very least discomfort. It's why most retail companies don't give cashiers chairs; customers have to be reassured that the cashier is "working." That Complex article scratches the surface with that, acknowledging the rap exchange and Teddy's dismissal of a "good time" as something to hold in regard. 

There's also clearly a lot there about the parents of some uniquely successful Black individuals and the amoral pragmatism they felt they needed to engineer class mobility for their children. I won't dig in to that too much because I don't think it's my place to do so, but they're not even a little subtle about it with the names Teddy lists for the fathers wing of the museum. 

It's a gorgeous looking episode too. Hiro Murai is easily on a shortlist of best shooters working in television right now. 

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9 hours ago, (BP) said:

It explores the very American phenomenon (not exclusive to the arts but very prevalent there) that productivity and success have to come from a place of pain, or at the very least discomfort. It's why most retail companies don't give cashiers chairs; customers have to be reassured that the cashier is "working." That Complex article scratches the surface with that, acknowledging the rap exchange and Teddy's dismissal of a "good time" as something to hold in regard. 

This is so true.  I used to work retail, and I remember a meeting where they pretty much told the cashiers that standing up for such prolonged times was really bad for your health.  Their strategy was to put one foot on a shelf, to make sure to move around the roughly 3  feet they had behind their cash register, or to take a walk on their lunch break.  Someone asked if they could get a stool, and the manager said "no" like she asked if she could do cocaine off a hooker's ass at the cash register.  She said, "No," and just stared at her like she was offended that she would have the nerve to ask such an asinine question.  It was an inside joke among the cashiers for as long as I worked there.  Someone would ask for something reasonable, and as a joke the person would say, "No," and just stare through the person who asked.  It was about as strange of an interaction as I've ever encountered.  

I think the real issue that we have is that we actually value "hard work" in a way that doesn't really correlate to anything in real life.  Our entire society is based on the lie that through hard work anyone can better their lives, but truly hard work is a fast track to poverty.  I'm sitting at work right now, in a fairly comfy chair, listening to a podcast, surfing the internet, and casually answering work emails.  That retail job I used to do...we had a Monday morning meeting that broke down every department and their work load.  I remember every single week the store manager would look at me and say, you have 86 hours of work this week...and at the end of the meeting he would say, we won't be offering any overtime this week, it's not in the budget.  So, somehow I had to figure out to do 86 hours of work in 40 hours without taking into consideration that I had to close at least once that week and none of that work is supposed to be done after noon.  I got paid almost half what I get paid now, and did maybe 10 times harder work.  

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I'm a janitor/custodian/whatever after a long history of retail and I'll wear that badge with pride over busting ass in a grocery store ever. The last place I was at just broke me. When you are given a title of "clerk" and have to work EVERY STORE DEPARTMENT short of office, you know they're reaming you. 

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"I am a custodial engineer...or a janitor if you want to be a dick about it."

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A master of the custodial arts, actually

Me personally, I'm working up the ranks. Maybe purple belt by now, going by Shaolin rankings

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So you're telling me third degree IG thotting is a level above where Earn is at? For real? I mean at least get flown to Dubai or Ocho Rios and a knockoff Gucci purse in exchange for sex. 

Van strikes me as the girl that would have "Mother first" in her IG profile description too.

Also, by virtue of being anti condom in Atlanta of all places, Van is automatically disqualified from being a responsible parent. You might as well crouch down and put your genitals in an ant pile.

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11 hours ago, Elsalvajeloco said:

So you're telling me third degree IG thotting is a level above where Earn is at? For real? I mean at least get flown to Dubai or Ocho Rios and a knockoff Gucci purse in exchange for sex. 

Van strikes me as the girl that would have "Mother first" in her IG profile description too.

Also, by virtue of being anti condom in Atlanta of all places, Van is automatically disqualified from being a responsible parent. You might as well crouch down and put your genitals in an ant pile.

Dude, that scene made my nuts itch something fierce.  Having unprotected casual sex is so much more risky for a woman than a man, I don't know how I'd react to a woman who was so anti-condom.  Once again, I think Van's biggest issue is that she doesn't have a single decent friend in her life.  At least Earn and Paper Boi have Darius, who is crazy but a fundamentally decent person. 

That one girl who was chasing after that white girl was pretty much the most spot on part of the episode.  That woman just built a whole narrative in her head about this woman, and then confronted her about it like it was based on reality.  "Bitch, I love him too," straight up killed me.  

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41 minutes ago, supremebve said:

Dude, that scene made my nuts itch something fierce.  Having unprotected casual sex is so much more risky for a woman than a man, I don't know how I'd react to a woman who was so anti-condom.  Once again, I think Van's biggest issue is that she doesn't have a single decent friend in her life.  At least Earn and Paper Boi have Darius, who is crazy but a fundamentally decent person. 

That one girl who was chasing after that white girl was pretty much the most spot on part of the episode.  That woman just built a whole narrative in her head about this woman, and then confronted her about it like it was based on reality.  "Bitch, I love him too," straight up killed me.  

The scene was like a real life Lipstick Alley forum post, which made it even funnier.

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I was at a concert last night and I was thumbing through a brochure they hand out that announces upcoming events. In it was a picture of Ronnie Milsap that reminded me a hell of a lot of Teddy Perkins.

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I didn't know who Ronnie Milsap was so I googled him, and now I'm convinced that Donald Glover somehow borrowed his face for that episode.  I mean...

RonnieMilsap17.png

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I'm late on the Van episode, but before it turned out Drake wasn't there I thought the episode was going to end with him on a dock staring across a shore at a green lantern shining from Rihanna's house. 

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"Woods" was deep as fuck. Stefani Robinson, who wrote both the Barbershop and Woods episodes, hinted there is something brewing between Earn and Al. She also compared Paper Boi to Kurt Cobain in that he kinda hates fame but wants to relish in it somehow. With this episode, moving past the hate, the subsequent depression, and coming to terms that shit isn't always going to be gravy could give him a new outlook on his career and lease on life. Great bit of character development in this one.

Even though Sierra was on that Amber Rose/Cardi B "straight off the pole and right into pseudo celebrity/IG Public Figure life" gameplan, she did drop that line about how nobody wants to see a celebrity look just like them. I was reading a paper released earlier this weak about the misconceptions about the widening racial wealth gap in America and the supposed solutions. One section was about the decadent veil of of black celebrities. African-Americans only make up 2.6% of wealth in the country. Of that 2.6%, two percent is black baby boomers and the remaining portion is Oprah, Diddy, Jay-Z, and every other black entertainer and pro athlete. Sierra wants to be on the #blackexcellence thing so bad that she would be an even worse manager than Earn is even if she was right about his management skills. She's just on the other end where she is delusional to the point of believing she knows anything about business. First off, she knows there is thousands of other black women selling hair and makeup (in addition of flat tummy tea, meal plans, Herbal Life, body magic ripoffs, handmade jewelry, and lingerie) on IG and there is no money in it. Another part of the paper discusses stuff like that as it relates to the myth that black entrepreneurship is a solution to closing the wealth gap. So many black people think they're going to be the next Carol's Daughter and get bought by L'Oreal when in reality they're just going to struggle (like Carol Daughter's did before they got bought) until they run out of capital. 98% of businesses run by black women have zero employees other than themselves. Understand that if you have no employees, you're not really a business. Well you say all that's needed is brains and an eye for what's needed. The problem is nine of ten times these businesses are run by someone with no business acumen like Sierra, who also has zero people skills as shown in this episode with how she interacts with the nail techs. Hence, why she needs Paper Boi's status to drive business (well in her opinion, more followers = more business in a warped WWE business way of thinking). In addition, if she made a slight bit of progress, she is going to get crushed on the ascent by a more known brand owned a non black entity that has enough seed money to be financially solvent even the product is not as good. That's been the story for so many black entrepreneurs and will continue to be that way especially with American wealth calcifying. In short, she is going is spend so much money just pretending and giving off the appearance she is successful on Instagram (that decadent veil) that she is going to be forced to close shop sooner than later. It's either that or go back to Magic City or Onyx or whatever the hell she was dancing at to fund her "business".

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7 hours ago, Elsalvajeloco said:

Understand that if you have no employees, you're not really a business.

This isn't necessarily true, but I get where you are going.  The thing about business that people don't understand is that every business isn't a corporation, and every business isn't a career.  As someone who is doing more and more work for himself, I am becoming more and more aware of the fallacy of entrepreneurship.  Yes you can start a business by yourself, yes you can be successful, but for the most part it is going to take a long time to get to be self-sustaining, and even longer to become a career.  People need to understand that the work you put in may never hit the jackpot, but that doesn't mean it isn't paying off.  The amount of supplemental income I make is worth it, and instead of looking to quit my full-time job and run my "business" full time, I'm looking to use this experience to branch out and do other things that will bring in more supplemental income.  The plan shouldn't be, I'm going to run a business, become Bill Gates and make billions.  The plan should be, I'm going to start this business, find out where I'm successful, and see how to turn those successes into more success.  Maybe you have an idea that is going to turn into some huge, multi-million dollar corporation, but most likely you have an idea that is going to let you save a little more money or take another vacation this year.  We have to stop looking at these things as a binary where one side is billions of dollars and the other side is an abject failure.  There are many steps in between where almost every business exists.  We aren't going to close the racial wealth gap by starting small businesses to supplement our income, but we can live better lives.  The problem is we measure success based on what we see on television not on what is actually realistic in our individual lives.  

The one thing Sierra had right was that you have to get money where it is available.  She is not smart about how to do that, but she recognizes that she needs to get her money before her opportunities dry up.  Paper Boi's issue is that he's leaving income on the table when his window is unpredictably small.  His pride in keeping it real is going to keep him broke.  

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