Netflix’s latest reality show is a hip-hop themed American Idol, but it feels a lot more real. Instead of aging stars and behind-the-scenes execs, the show enlists some of hip-hop’s hottest stars of today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
Cardi B, T.I., and Chance the Rapper are the three judges, but they recruit local rappers in each of their respective locales (NYC, Atlanta, and Chicago), as well as Los Angeles to help find the best and brightest talents.
This includes Killer Mike, Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe, Quavo, Royce Da 5’9, Nipsey Hussle (in his last appearance before his death), Lupe Fiasco, Twista, and more. On top of this, they pull in heavy-hitting collaborative artists, producers, and more to really put these emcees through the real hip-hop business in a condensed time.
In the end, D Smoke, an Inglewood native and teacher ended up winning the $250,000 cash grand prize, which came with no contractual obligations, unlike Idol and other talent competitions.
Still, we saw a lot of great, emerging, and not-so-great artists come up on the show from around the country. They competed in competitions like rap battles, music videos, guest verses, and performing their own songs live.
Big Mouf’Bo impressed at Chance’s audition to join the audition, but she quickly became a pain in everybody’s ass and showed the dark side of conscious rap.
Londynn B is one of the breakout stars of the show. She clearly has a sense of style and stage presence that will work well for her throughout her hip-hop career. When she gets a standing ovation at her Atlanta audition, it’s well-earned.
Flawless Real Talk earned the silver medal and everyone’s respect on the show for his ferocious rhyme schemes and rapid-fire delivery. This Puerto Rican emcee proved to everyone he’s an all-around artist ready to be a crossover star.
Inglewood IV has a lot of hits up his sleeve, and even if you don’t see him on stage, you’re certain to hear some of his music in the clubs and bumping out of trunks in the near future. I see him becoming a great ghostwriter like Royce da 5’9 (who also appeared on the show).
Being from AZ, I was excited to see a native Phoenician on the show, but Ali Tomineek really struggled to showcase what makes him unique. He made it far in the show, and I hope to see him at some local shows in the area, but he’s got a long ways to go to compete with some of the greats.
Overall Rhythm + Flow is one of Netflix’s best shows of 2019 so far and a great way to cap off the 2010s. I love how the show broke through the typical reality show talent competition formula to really dig into hip-hop culture and put these artists through the test.
There are some great business gems too, like T.I., calling a man out on his “freestyle,” and forcing people to battle who really weren’t meant to do so.
It’s a highly entertaining show that had about 50% decent music happening throughout. The judges all felt real, and I even found myself respecting Cardi B much more than I did prior, having very little exposure to her outside of her music and a few clips that don’t always flatter her.
It’ll be fun to see how these MCs fare in today’s music scene and whether we’ll be blessed with another season.