At this point, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that collecting some of the most talented people and putting them together to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime shot at fame creates some of the best televised content possible.
Following the invention of competition shows in the early 2000s, such as “Fear Factor,” “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent,” the genre (both terrific and horrendous) caught the attention of audiences across the world. As the medium evolved in 2010s, the entertainment industry introduced more complex and diverse shows, such as “America’s Got Talent,” “The Voice” and “America’s Best Dance Crew.” Now, with the creation of “Rhythm + Flow,” the competition show might very well be entering its next era.
After seeing the success other TV networks had with the genre, several years ago Netflix decided to begin looking into creating their own version of a competition show. Earlier this month, the streaming service announced its plans to produce “Rhythm +Flow,” a hip-hop competition and Netflix original that aims to find “the next breakout hip-hop star.”
Hollywood big names John Legend and Jesse Collins came together to produce the new initiative, which will reportedly hold auditions in a handful of yet-to-be-revealed cities across the country. In addition to these unrevealed locations, to create the series’ 10-part, one-hour episodes, the “Rhythm + Flow” team will also be visiting New York City, Chicago and Atlanta, the hometowns of the three main judges.
Yes three, count ’em, three big time judges. First, we get the King of the South, T.I., who has been bringing us his upbeat, dirty South sound since he arrived on the scene in 2003. Although he is a bit quieter in the rap game now, the Atlanta native has a list of bangers under his belt that he will use to help guide the soon-to-be contestants.
Moving north from Georgia, Chicago musician Chance the Rapper and New York rap queen Cardi B will round out the judges’ table. The two rappers, who I believe are currently in their prime, bring a new-school perspective to complement T.I.’s 2000’s mindset. Chance, whose soothing yet fluctuating flow has only improved in recent years, will work smoothly in tandem with Cardi B, who is arguably the biggest woman in rap right now and a musician whose bombastic sound is rivaled only by her larger-than-life personality. Plus, the former “Love & Hip Hop: New York” star knows a thing or two about creating a name for yourself as a hungry artist.
It’ll definitely be exciting to see how the three fan favorite rappers will work together. By meshing their personalities, the show will play host to a group of judges whose entertainment value will feel much more authentic; less scripted than Simon Cowell or Ryan Seacreast, the threesome will banter, clash and vibe like no other table before them.
Because the show will hold auditions in cities across the country, the episodes will feature celebrity judges from these respective cities. Though names haven’t been announced yet, if I were to make some wild guesses (and please don’t come at me if I’m wrong), I’d like to assume that we’ll see rappers like Gucci Mane, A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino or Vic Mensa — fingers crossed we see at least one of them, though. The ties between these potential guests, their hometowns and the judges make their appearances at least somewhat likely.
The producers hope to release the show next year, in fall 2019, and hip-hop heads across the country are ecstatic. Most music competition shows center around singing or dancing, but, outside of maybe Nick Cannon’s “Wild N Out,” very few series have explored rap in any significant way. Given that hip hop is the most popular genre in the country, a show like “Rhythm & Flow” feels long overdue.
When you combine the legendary hustle of rappers, whose “do anything to make it” mentality is the stuff of legend, with the storytelling track record of Netflix, it seems impossible that you’d end up with anything less than an engrossing, masterfully scripted product. The drama will write itself, of course, so all we have to do is hope the rhymes keep up.