Things are finally looking up for Paper Boi and his manager Earn when they find themselves at a celebrity basketball game for charity this week on Atlanta.
Upon their arrival, an event staff member checks the two in and runs off to find a writer who had expressed interest in interviewing the rap upstart. But Paper was already sidetracked, watching an obnoxious little snot named Justin Bieber — not our Justin Bieber, of course — walk in, to much fanfare. Way more than he’d received, no doubt.
The Biebs walks with an exaggerated bounce, stopping at the front desk to swipe all contents from the surface onto the ground. He spots Paper and hollers, “Hey! You that nigga that blew that other nigga brains out!”
Paper Boi is learning more and more, that the negative sticks with you, even on the way to success. And sometimes juvenile douchebags are the ones to remind you of your murky beginnings. Then all you can do is seethe silently and wonder why he’s currently the bigger star.
Paper’s hoping to score a talk with Valencia Joyner in the press room, a siddity looker from a bigger television outlet. He’s pressed. She barely acknowledges him.
Without being asked, Paper offers, “Aiight. You got me. I’m a rapper.”
Finally looking up from her phone, Joyner responds with an insincere smile, “Oh, I know who you are. You’re the guy that shot someone…”
Paper tries to steer the conversation in a more desirable direction, hoping to hook the reporter by mention of a chain hibachi spot. “I’ll let you interview me somewhere fly like Benihana.” Poor Paper. That ain’t gon’ do it bruh.
She abruptly kills the chatter with a smug remark about her audience not being into “the whole gangster thing.” Then, “I’m not really either.”
Her team flags Justin down as he enters the room and Joyner drops Paper instantly for the opportunity to get a video interview in with the young superstar.
She was mid-question when Bieber leaned over and pushed his hand into the middle of her face. Just to see if he could do it, seemingly. He mushed her and she slid awkwardly out of her chair trying to lean away. This is the guy she was pressed to speak with.
He hadn’t even answered the question before jumping up, “I’m gonna dunk on a b*tch!” Then he hit a hard dab and walked off on Joyner and her whole crew, entourage in tow. Pretty true-to-life honestly.
As the celebrity teams line up, Bieber takes a whiz in the hall, right in front of security, who of course, says nothing. Paper, visibly irritated now, wonders aloud about the pop star’s appeal. Lloyd (who makes a cameo) responds, beaming, “Yeah, he crazy… He just tryna figure it out.”
Meanwhile, Earn is upstairs in the VIP lounge after a woman named Janice mistakes him for a wheeler and dealer named Alonzo. She enters the gym with a lit cigarette in hand and calls out to Earn, er, “Alonzo.” Janice is one of those well-seasoned industry heads who can talk her way into (and out of) everything and anything. She wears that confidence well. When a security guard stops her in the hall and tells her that she isn’t allowed to smoke indoors, Janice puts the cigarette out and mutters that she will be smoking upstairs. As soon as the guard is out of the frame, she lights another one.
Janice knows the ins and outs — when Earn is stopped at the VIP door, she gets him in without an issue. “Come on,” she says to the laminate checker, “You didn’t really think we would walk in with those ugly badges you guys sent us on our chests, did you? Listen, we don’t even want to be at this thing.”
And just like that, Earn was in with the movers and shakers, the agents, managers and behind-the-scenes folks for music, TV, sports and entertainment. He’s networking and chopping it up about brand association and deal signings. He asks the price on a beer, learns that the event organizers paid for an open bar and he upgrades to Hennessy and Grand Marnier.
The look on his face was super gratifying to watch as a viewer. Earn finally had a chance to experience what would become a normal engagement should he become successful. And we want it for him.
While PaperBoi is downstairs getting crossed over by a kid (“Pomegranate ass,” Bieber spits.) and Earn is upstairs gaining his footing in business, Darius heads to the range for some therapeutic gun busting. He carefully carries his target in a tube and after renting his weapon and purchasing a couple boxes of bullets, Darius finds his section. He unravels the target, hangs it and pushes it out. Of course the other patrons see that it’s an image of a dog, they’re puzzled but no one’s said anything — yet.
Darius empties the gun on the dog target and before he can load up again, a pair of very rural sounding white men run up from behind.
“What do you think you’re doing?” one asked, but it wasn’t as if he truly cared about the response. He asked again, this time with “answer me, boy” attitude all in his tone.
Our beloved Darius finally replies, “I’m shooting.”
There’s an exchange and the apparent patron, a man who’s paid money just like anyone else did, says, “You can’t shoot dogs!” Darius calmly states that in his neighborhood the dogs are “crazy” and that “they bite babies.” He’s genuinely trying to get him to understand.
“I don’t give a damn,” the man says, visibly getting more upset by the minute. “Our kids could be in here. You can’t shoot a dog.” To which Darius responds, “Well, why would I shoot a human target? That’s weird right?” The man says, “I’m not gonna let you shot a f*cking dog in here.”
See the irony? This is one of those dark humor scenes. Really close to real life. Uncomfortably close, so you laugh because it actually is a ridiculous notion and you see that it is, but also, you laugh to keep from crying. You watch it, wanting to tweet about Vick in comparison to all these black men, women and children dying at the hands of the police but you know everyone won’t “get it,” so you continue watching.
Here’s the kicker:
Another man (a person of color) comes to D’s defense, “You shoot at your racist targets with no problems… That one with the Mexican holding a knife…” But then he goes off the deep end, speaking of revolutions uprising in America and blood that “will spill.”
Darius didn’t even have an opportunity to regain control of the conversation before the owner entered with a shotgun, demanding that he leave the range, “I ain’t gon’ let you start no shit…”
At that same time, back at the game, Paper’s temper boils over, he flagrantly fouls and ends up brawling with the Biebs mid-court as the crowd looks on.
The truth comes out about Janice and Alonzo’s relationship (“I know you sold me out, you f*ggot cocksucker!”). Earn is terrified.
Then, somehow Bieber wins the press over once again — credit extensive media training — and Joiner ends up giving Paper “a tip” post-game after he sniffs her out again, hoping she’ll grant him an interview to explain the fight with Biebs.
She responds curtly, “People don’t want Justin to be the asshole. They want you to be the asshole. You’re a rapper, that’s your job.”
Cold world, Paper. But at least you know she’ll be first in line once you make it big. Guaranteed.