Rhythm + Flow took Hip-hop culture by storm with its fresh perspective on music competition shows, garnering cosigns from some of music’s biggest names including: Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe, Big Boi, and Jadakiss, to name a few. The show premiered on October 9th, 2019 with the release of the first four audition episodes.
The four cities selected for auditions were Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. LA was home base for the R+F stage and the other three major cities were the judges’ original stomping grounds; Cardi B from New York, Tip “T.I.” Harris from Atlanta, and Chance the Rapper from Chicago.
The show provides an in-depth look into specific aspects of the music business that are crucial in the development of a successful artist.
R+F Judges | Photo: Netflix
The first four episodes had artists from their respective regions, perform a written or freestyle rap to the judges in order to earn a spot in the top 30. The goal in these first four episodes was to decide which 30 artists had the most industry ready packages, in regards to stage presence, cadence, substance, memorability, and overall marketability in the market.
An interesting part of the show was when each individual judge had the opportunity to visit a fellow artist in the industry.In the LA round we had the honor of seeing the great Nipsey Hustle, when T.I visited the 1500 Sound Academy to hear what artist they had ready for the show. Chance the Rapper was able to visit Anderson Pakk and hear his two artists perform pre R+F stage.
1500 Sound Academy | Photo: Netflix
Cardi B had the opportunity to visit Snoop Dogg and was able to invite Snoop as a guest Judge for the LA audition round performances. The judges chose 7 artists, out of everyone that auditioned, to move on to the next round, including D Smoke, Old Man Saxon, Rae Khalil, AJ The One, Inglewood IV, Ali Tomineek, and King Vvibe.
In New York Cardi B enlisted the help of Fat Joe & Jadakiss to join her as guest judges for the NYC auditions. They held the auditions at S.O.B.’s, also known as Sounds of Brazil, which is a legendary live music venue in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo. There they chose 7 artists, including Flawless Real Talk, Beanz, Kay Makavel, Savannah Hannah, Felisha George, One Take Carter, and Cakes Da Killa.
In Atlanta T.I. brought Big Boi and Quavo on as a guest judges for the ATL auditions. They held the auditions at the Medusa Lounge—home to Nipsey Hustle’s Victory Lap listening party when he visited the city. There they chose 7 artists, including Londynn B, Troyman who’s originally from Oakland, CA, Caleb Colossus, Amavi, Maddie Mook, 2’Live Bre, and C. Rose.
The 4th episode of auditions took place in Chicago where Chance joined forces with Lupe Fiasco for a preliminary round of auditions at Harold Washington Library, Chicago’s public library, to discover what new talent was available at his old stomping grounds, Youmedia.
This is where Chance first performed and recorded his first mixtape “10 Day” and second mixtape “Acid Rap” which was nominated for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards and catapulted Chance’s career.
Chance also enlisted the help of Twista and Royce da 5’9″ for the main Chicago auditions. They held the auditions at Reggies Live Music where they chose 9 artists, including Sam Be Yourself, Big Mouf’Bo, Sasha Go Hard, Jakob Campbell, Jae Ham, Nikee Turbo, Kaylee Crossfire, Ariyon, and G Mamba.
The cypher round incorporated the use of small groups like a traditional XXL Cypher where DJ Hed dropped the same beat for each of the artists to rap on. During this round the judges enlisted the help of King Los, one of the best freestyle rappers in the game, to develop the artists’ bars and overall presentation for the cypher.
Here the goal was to work off each other’s rhythm and flow (no pun intended) from verse to verse, as well as standout as a single memorable act. At the end of this round the judges trimmed down the competition to a slim 16, who then went on to face off in the Rap Battle round.
The judges enlisted the help of Troy Mitchell, AKA “Smack White” the owner of URLTV/URLTV APP (the biggest battle rap platform in the world), to be a guest judge on the rap battle round.
Here are the top 16 split into pairs to face off with their most compelling bars that consist of bragging, insults and boasting content. At the end of this round the judges weeding out the competition to form the top 8, who then went on to create a song and visual in the Music Videos round.
This round was one of the first rounds that began to focus on artist development, in regards to creating compelling visuals to compliment a hot record. Here the artists had the opportunity to get in studio with some of the industry’s up-and-coming producers such as G-Dav, Denaro Love, Off-The-Wall, and Kal Banx.
King Los was also involved in this round and throughout the competition to help guide artist sonically and conceptually. He speaks on his involvement further in his recent Instagram post below.
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Our favorite music videos were from the top 6 chosen to move on to the sample round. D Smoke, Flawless Real Talk, Londynn B, Troyman, Sam Be Yourself, and Caleb Colossus all created visuals that were authentic to their artistry style and background.
D Smoke in particular produced our favorite track and video out of the bunch. We loved how well his record and visual resonated as a thoughtful piece on the injustice of police brutality, as well as the unity needed in our communities.
In the samples round the artists had the opportunity to visit DJ Khaled at his home in LA, where he discussed with the top 6 finalists what samples they were going to be working with. These samples have been used by Hip Hop legends such as Biggie Smalls, Run DMC, Nas, Jay Z, and Drake. The sample selection for each artist in order of appearance are as follows:
- Troyman – “Darkest Light” by Lafayette Afro Rock Band,
- Caleb Colossus – “A Little Of Love” by Brenda Russell
- Londynn B – “I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You” by Leon Haywood
- Sam Be Yourself – “Hung Up On Me Baby” by Isaac Hayes
- D Smoke – “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton
- Flawless Real Talk – “What I Am” by Edie Brickell
The artists then got in the studio with the previous producers from the Music Videos round, to create a new record while trying to deliver their take on these iconic samples.
King Los also joined the 6 in studio to give them advice on how to go about creating their own compelling and memorable records using these samples, based on their concepts and visions for their songs.
Our favorite tracks during this round came from Troyman who delivered exceptional energy throughout his performance, which felt like an anthem, as well as D Smoke who delivered a thought provoking performance—even though he stumbled lyrically during the second half of his song. Following this round the judges narrowed the competition down to the top 5.
During the collaborations round the top 5 were paired up with industry greats such as Miguel, Ty Dolla $ign, Jhene Aiko, Tory Lanez, and Teyana Taylor. During this round each contestant had to write a verse on one of their partners hit records.
D Smoke was paired up with Miguel on his song “Skywalker” and did an amazing job writing his verse to compliment the vibe that Miguel created on this record. D Smoke also rapped in Spanish which added a dynamic element to the track.
Troyman linked up with Ty Dolla $ign on his song “Paranoid” and did a good job lyrically, however we were hoping that he would of brought the same energy as his previous performance in the Samples Round.
Flawless Real Talk teamed up with Jhené Aiko on her song “Stay Ready” and this was one of our favorite performances of the night. Flawless brought a sex appeal to the track with his lyrics as well as his performance which engaged the audience from start to finish.
Caleb Colossus was paired with Tory Lanez on his song “Talk To Me” and he also did a good job lyrically, however his delivery was lacking which withdrew from the believability of his performance.
Londynn B joined forces with Teyana Taylor on her song “Rose In Harlem” and she did a great job providing a powerful performance even though she had a slight mishap remembering her lyrics. At the end of this round the judges chose their final 4 contestants to move on to the finale.
The Finale was a cultivation of each artist’s experience and evolution throughout each round in the competition, and was judged accordingly.
During this round each artist had to create their dream song with the hottest producers in the game and give performances worthy of an award show, which the winner would have the opportunity to do so at Spotify’s Rap Caviar Live event. The producer/artist pairings are as follows:
The first artist to perform was Troyman who performed his song “Streetlight.” His concept was represented well in the stage design with the physical streetlight elements incorporated, as well as the streetlight visual on the screen behind the stage. The performance was full of energy from beginning to end and was definitely a memorable experience.
Flawless Real Talk was next and he performed his song “On My Way”, which was an incredibly powerful performance that spoke on his family and pursuit to become a successful artist in the music industry. He intentionally created this record to connect with the audience on a personal level and to showcase who he is as an artist holistically.
Londynn B performed next and she presented her song “Only One” which was exceptionally dynamic given the two change ups melodically and in BPM throughout the track.
Her performance at the last change up gave us Travis Scott vibes which was extremely engaging and full of energy, and we feel that she seared into our minds her stamp as the Queen of Trap.
D Smoke was the last to perform and he delivered his song “Last Supper”, which was also exceptionally dynamic throughout the track; in regards to the introduction that consisted of live piano from D Smoke, leading into his first verse that was underlaid with powerful drums and a prominent base line.
The last part of the song transitioned into a soulful piano melody that accompanied some of Smoke’s most memorable bars from the track, “Pass the blunt like communion, I know we friends but ni**a Jesus was homies with Judas”.
All in all D Smoke was our favorite performance of the night and his talent shined through, and this was evident due to the fact that he arose victorious at the end. He took home the $250,000 grand prize and was crowned the winner of season one of Rhythm + Flow and also was granted the opportunity to take the stage at Spotify’s Rap Caviar Live event.
Top 4 Contestants
Each artist provided a distinct style and identity to the show, which made for a riveting competition and provided a spectrum of creative for the fans to connect with.
Following the show’s finale, the top 4 received notoriety within the culture and began to develop an engaged fanbase, eager to further discover each artist musically and personally.
D Smoke recently released a new EP following the shows release called “Inglewood High”, which was according to Smoke, “An appetizer before the main course (album)”.
He also told a fan, who asked when he was going on tour, that his full tour would commence before March 20, 2020. In regards to the EP, we loved Inglewood High and are going to cover the music further in a following article. We linked the new project below.
Flawless Real Talk released an Instagram post recently promoting his upcoming shows in the US leading up to his full tour. He released the records that he recording during the show and he also released a new single called “Land of the Free” which is available on all major streaming platforms. We linked it below.
Londynn B following the Finale, released her new album titled “Reset”, as well as a new single called “Common Sense”. She also promoted a new music video on her Instagram that she’s dropping with one of the contestants from the show, 2’Live Bre. We linked her new album below.
Troyman recently released an album titled “A.P.R.I.L” which we’re going to cover further in a following article. Troyman also promoted on his Instagram a new record that he collaborated on with fellow contestants Caleb Colossus and Ali Tomineek called “All that Jazz”. We linked Troyman’s new album below.
There’s no denying that Season 1 of Rhythm + Flow was a smash hit and an overall success within the Hip Hop culture. The brand hasn’t released any news on Netflix renewing the show for a second season, however given the response and ratings, there’s a high probability that R+F will return.
We don’t have specific viewership data just yet regarding the show’s success, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos recently told investors that the company will be more transparent about viewership data.
This follows the release of their 3rd Quarter Earnings statement. Stay tuned for more information on Rhythm + Flow news and thank you for your readership.