Two cousins, with different views on art versus commerce, on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene; Earnest 'Earn' Marks, an ambitious college dropout and his estranged cousin, who suddenly becomes a star.
The series opens with a confrontation between local rapper Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles and a man who breaks off the side view mirror of Alfred's parked car. Alfred's cousin Earn tries to mediate the situation while stoned sidekick Darius has a sensation of déjà vu. Working a deadend job and trying to co-parent with Vanessa "Van", Earn approaches Alfred about managing the rapper since he has connections. Though Alfred sees Earn as a leech, Earn finds a way to get his song played on the radio. But just as they listen to the song on Alfred's car radio, a man walking by suddenly snaps off the side view mirror, resulting in the incident at the opening (hence the déjà vu) which ultimately culminates with a gunshot.
Issues like police brutality, mental illness, and transphobia are addressed as Earn awaits bail after the boys get arrested for their shooting incident.
Earn goes on a date with Van even though he's broke; Paper Boi proves he might have what it takes to hustle. Migos guest star.
Paper Boi deals with a social media troll, internet criticism, and exploitation; While Earn tries to trade his phone for quick cash, Darius sets up an investment for the future.
Justin Bieber, who is depicted as an African-American, makes an appearance in Atlanta at a celebrity basketball game, rubbing Paper Boi the wrong way. Meanwhile, Earn sneaks his way into a high-powered agents meeting after being mistaken for someone else.
Van meets her WAG friend Jayde for dinner and they clash over their respective lifestyles. Later, they smoke weed and reconcile, but Van forgets she is scheduled for a drug test the next day. She tries to use her daughter's urine, but spills it and finally admits to her boss that she's smoked, who understands but has to fire her.
A satirical episode, Paper Boi features as a guest on a talk show called Montague, being part of a discussion on the media's indictment of Black culture and its intersection with trans people. Commercial parodies play throughout the episode during the breaks of the talk show.
An NBA star named Marcus Miles is in the same club as Paper Boi, hogging the drinks, women and limelight, which aggravates Paper Boi. Additionally, their promoter is avoiding paying Earn, who attempts to chase him down throughout the night. Eventually, Paper Boi strong-arms him and takes his money. Later, another shooting happens (outside of the club), which the police link to Paper Boi on the news due to his "armed robbery".
Earn wakes up in another woman's bed and Van comes by to pick him up for a Juneteenth-themed party which she believes will help her establish good networking. The luxury home's owner is a rich White man who is shown to know quite a lot about Black culture in an anthropological way and his bourgeois Black wife. To impress the party's attendees, Vanessa and Earnest have to pretend they are a married couple who love fine art. Earn ends up going off on the homeowners when the wife insults Paper Boi and his hip hop management career. On the drive back home, Earn and Van have sex in their car.
Earn loses his jacket, which has imporant items to him, after a night of partying. The Uber driver, who is a drug and weapons dealer, has it but ends up getting shot by police while wearing it. Later, Paper Boi gives Earn a generous 5% pay which he gives to Van. Earn's coworker comes by and returns the important item he desperately needed—a key which unlocks the storage facility space he is living in.