With judges Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I., “Rhythm + Flow” is an on-screen competition to discover the next great rapper. The series premiered Oct. 9 on Netflix and begins with auditions held in four locations, including Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Chicago. After auditions, contestants who made it through are sent to Los Angeles for six rounds of competition that include freestyling, rap battling, video production and stage performances. At the end of it all, the winner of the competition is given $250,000 to invest in their music.
The entertaining personalities of the judges make “Rhythm + Flow” stand out from other talent search competitions such as “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent”; the competitors also add character to the show through their originality and inspiring stories. At the end of the day, “Rhythm + Flow” includes an element of creativity other shows lack.
While its rival shows might employ great judges, they’re all incomparable to the notorious Cardi B, the most entertaining judge American television has had in years. Throughout the show, her quotable remarks leave the audience laughing out loud. First, after a performance during the LA auditions, Cardi B told the artist, “I wasn’t really feeling that murder thing. You know that scares white people.” During the New York auditions, she started sending the bad contestants to Jersey instead of California insinuating it is the last place the New Yorkers would want to go. During the finale, Cardi B even told one of the performers she was going to be thinking about his performance while she was having sex later. She says whatever is on her mind and we love her for it.
Throughout the audition process, the “Rhythm and Flow” judges got an opportunity to meet some inspiring and hardworking young artists. In Los Angeles, the judges were introduced to 22-year-old Rae Khalil. In her bio video, Khalil describes how she feels accepted in the rap community in a way she had never felt before. She said, “I always felt like an outcast being the only black person in my class.”
In New York, Cardi is wowed by Flawless Real Talk, a single dad from Providence, Rhode Island. Flawless has two young daughters and has managed to provide for them while working on his music. In Atlanta, T.I. meets the talented young mom and former strip club dancer, Londynn B. “I’m doing this to inspire my daughter,” said Londynn. And last but not least, Chance is stunned in Chicago by Jakob Campbell, a Denver rapper who wants to win the competition to help his mother, a survivor of domestic abuse. “My mom is my hero,” said Campbell.
The creative element of the show heated up in Episode 4 when all the selected rappers were united in California. For the first round, the contestants were put into small groups then given the remainder of the day to prepare for a group freestyle. While some artists shined, others nearly choked in front of the judges.
The contestants got a chance to use their creative skills once again in round three of the competition when they were tasked with making a music video. Not only did the artists have to write an original song, they also had to plan and shoot a video in their hometowns. Two of the most memorable videos came from the performers Londynn B and Caleb Colossus. In Colossus’s video, he performed his song “Michelangelo” in a church and incorporated paintings and pieces of Renaissance art. Londynn B performed a song called “I Can’t Change” for her music video. In it, she wore several outfits and performed several well-choreographed hip-hop dances, confirming that her talents extend beyond just rapping to a beat.
Finally, in the Season 1 finale, the top four contestants got a chance to perform original songs with a stage ensemble of their choice. These remaining artists not only wrote and performed lyrics but also planned out all the other mechanics to go along with their act.
The first contestant to perform in the finale was TrOyMaN. For his performance he sang “Street Lights,” a song whose sound resembles that of artists like J. Cole and Big Sean. For his performance TrOyMaN had strobe lights coming from the ceiling and actual street lights along the barriers of the stage. He also incorporated a whole ensemble of backup dancers into his performance in which he performed several eight counts.
The next artist in the finale was Flawless Real Talk. For his performance, Flawless wrote the song “On My Way” about his family and the hardships they have overcome. During his act, Flawless had pictures of him and his daughters projecting from the walls of the stage. The artist also had background dancers acting out his story through interpretive dance.
Londynn B was up next and, with a dance ensemble dressed in sparkling silver jackets, the former dancer performed a song called “No Problems.” Smoke and giant snakes shot out of the bottom of the stage during Londynn B’s act.
Last in the season finale was D Smoke. The 32-year-old from Inglewood performed his original song, “Last Supper.” Not only did he sing, but he also played the piano while doing it. With his piano solo over, D Smoke got up out of the seat and began to dance. For his performance, the stage was set up like a biblical service. While the song and stage performance were similar in style to Kendrick Lamar’s, they definitely had their own flare.
“Rhythm + Flow” has more to offer than its rivals and is sure to become the next hit reality competition. With a panel of judges that includes Cardi B and incredibly creative, driven contestants, this show will be difficult to match. Be sure to check out “Rhythm + Flow” on Netflix and, if you haven’t already, listen to the featured artists on Spotify.