Home TV Series Rhythm + Flow: Season 1 – Review (with Spoilers)

Rhythm + Flow: Season 1 – Review (with Spoilers)

by Amari
Published: Last Updated on

Rhythm + Flow, one of Hip-Hop’s first popularized music competitions, may have a few flaws but shows potential.


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Network
Netflix
Creator(s)John Legend, Jeff Gaspin, Jesse Collins
Genre(s)Reality TV, Competition
Good If You Like
  • Hip-Hop/ Rap
  • Battle Rap
  • People Trying To Rap As Fast As Twista
  • Urban Hip-Hop
  • Musical Competitions
  • Musicians Writing Their Own Songs and No Covers
Noted Cast Below
HimselfRoyce Da 5’9”
HimselfCakes Da Killa
HerselfSasha Go Hard
HimselfChance The Rapper
HerselfCardi B
HimselfD Smoke
HimselfFlawless Real Talk
HerselfLondynn B
HimselfYung Water
HimselfSam Be Yourself
HimselfKing Los
HimselfAriyon
HimselfTI “Tip” Harris

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Rhythm + Flow Directory

Creator

John Legend, Jeff Gaspin, Jesse Collins

Character Guide

Created

Collected Quotes

Created

Current Status

Active

Where To Buy, Rent, or Stream?
Netflix

Season Reviews

Season 1
Check Out The TV Series & Specials Page
Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 1, Episode 10 “Finale” [Season Finale]On the season finale, family members are gathered, budgets explode, and the winner of season 1 of Rhythm + Flow is given $250,000 – with no strings attached.
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/23/2019
  • The First Eliminated: Troyman
  • The Second Eliminated: Londynn B
  • There Can Only Be One: Flawless Real Talk, D Smoke
Season 1, Episode 9 “Collaborations”Some of R&B’s biggest names join our up and coming stars, and one person stumbles during their performance. Can you guess who?
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/23/2019
Introduced This Episode
HimselfMiguel
HerselfJhené Aiko
HerselfTeyana Taylor
HimselfTy Dolla $ign
HimselfTory Lanez
  • You Gotta Have Fun With It: Miguel, D Smoke, Ty Dolla $ign, Troyman, Caleb Colossus, Tory Lanez
  • Get Sexy With It: Jhené Aiko, Flawless Real Talk
  • Will One F*** Up Ruin An Opportunity?: Teyana Taylor, Londynn B, Caleb Colossus
Season 1, Episode 8 “Samples”Alongside learning who got cut, we get a taste of what these rappers can cook up real quick when the pressure is on.
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/23/2019
  • Can’t Impress Everyone: Caleb, Sam Be Yourself
  • The Respect Of Your Peers Is Worth It All: Flawless Real Talk, Troyman, Londynn B, D Smoke
  • Elimination Time
Season 1, Episode 5 “Cyphers”While it isn’t clear why a cypher was needed, since many popular rappers wouldn’t be able to do so, this is a competition and contestants have to be put through the ringer.
Director(s)Iren Brown
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/16/2019
Introduced This Episode
HimselfC.Rose
HerselfMaddiemook
HerselfAJ, The One
HimselfKing Vvibe
HimselfKing Los
  • Who Are These People?: C.Rose, Maddiemook, AJ The One, King Vvibe
  • Let The Cyphers Begin
  • There Can Only Be 16
Season 1, Episode 6 “Rap Battles”This episode, they got the contestants battle rapping, and while we lose some good ones, others get reminded many need that $250,000.
Director(s)Iren Brown
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/16/2019
  • You Really Aren’t About This Rap Battle Life Are You?: Felisha George, Caleb Colossus, Big Mouf’Bo, Rae Khalil, Ali, Ariyon
  • You Said Who Won?: Old Man Saxon, D Smoke, Jakob, Troyman
  • I CAME TO BATTLE: Londynn B, Inglewood IV, King Vvibe, Sam Be Yourself, Beanz, Flawless Real Talk
Season 1, Episode 7 “Music Videos”Rhythm + Flow goes beyond what most of its competition does and shows us what these artists are selling. Question is, you buying?
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/16/2019
  • The Judges Are Iffy: Troyman, Caleb, Big Mouf’Bo
  • Take My Money: D Smoke, Flawless Real Talk, Londynn B
  • Because What Show Doesn’t Have Cliffhangers?: Ali, Sam Be Yourself
Season 1, Episode 4 “Chicago Auditions”Chance is faced with the most 25 and under seen thus far, but them Chicago/Mid-west kids got stories to tell and damn if they won’t make you bop your head.
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/9/2019
Introduced This Episode
HerselfKaylee Crossfire
HimselfSam Be Yourself
HerselfSasha Go Hard
HimselfNikee Turbo
HimselfAriyon
HerselfBig Mouf’Bo
HimselfJae Ham
HimselfJakob Campbell
HimselfYung Water
  • You Stumbled, But You Going To LA: Kaylee Crossfire, Sam Be Yourself, Sasha Go Hard, Nikee Turbo
  • The Kids Are Alright: Ariyon, Big Mouf’Bo, Jae Ham
  • Always Saving The Best For Last: Jakob Campbell
Season 1, Episode 3 “Atlanta Auditions”We head down to the ATL, and unlike NYC, no one dares bring their sob stories. Instead, many just rap like they trying to compete with Twista or Busta Rhymes.
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/9/2019
Introduced This Episode
HerselfAmavi
HimselfCaleb Colossus
HimselfBaddnews
Himself2’Live Bre
HimselfTroyman
HerselfLondynn B
  • Some Got Potential But Had To Be Put On Notice: Amavi, Caleb Colossus, Baddnews
  • Skinny Dudes Stay Winning: 2’Live Bre, Troyman
  • There Can Only Be One: Londynn B
Season 1, Episode 2 “New York Auditions”Cardi B hits up S.O.B.’s in New York to find some talent, and… she may have found one that won’t just fill a slot but could also win.
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/9/2019
Introduced This Episode
Herself$avannah Hannah
HerselfKay Makavel
HerselfBeanz
HimselfCakes Da Killa
HerselfFelisha George
HimselfOnetake Carter
HimselfFlawless Real Talk
HimselfJadakiss
HimselfFat Joe
  • These Sob Stories Gotta Stop: $avannah Hannah, Kay Makavel
  • All My Life I Had To Fight: Beanz, Cakes Da Killa, Felisha George, Onetake Carter
  • The Only One Whose Name Rings True: Flawless Real Talk
Season 1, Episode 1 “Los Angeles Auditions” [Series Premiere]Rhythm & Flow begins with the need to question, to be rap’s next big superstar, what’s more important: Lyricism, being a performer, or accessible to a white audience?
Director(s)Sam Wrench
Writer(s)N/A
Air Date10/9/2019
Genre(s)Musical, Competition
Good If You LikeHip-Hop/ Rap Music
Introduced This Episode
HimselfTip “T.I.” Harris
HerselfCardi B
HimselfChance The Rapper
HimselfSnoop Dogg
HimselfNipsey Hussle
HimselfAnderson .Paak
HerselfRae Khalil
HimselfAli Tomineek
HimselfD Smoke
HimselfOld Man Saxon
HimselfInglewood IV

Review

Highlights

Royce Da 5’9” – 90

Royce Da 5'9" talking to chance about what someone is doing on stage.

Royce Da 5’9” should have been a judge on this show beyond the single episode he was in. The reason being, with him, we heard about more than the commercial side of the industry. He wasn’t talking about how you need a hook for social media captions, and even when he was judging weird contestants, he didn’t toss them aside because he was uncomfortable. Royce Da 5’9” recognized a niche, and while he knew this show wasn’t for that niche, at the very least, he didn’t sound dismissive.

On top of that, he spoke made rap and hip-hop seem technical. It wasn’t just the superficial like finding a good beat and having a catchy hook. He’d talk about structure and the poetic end of things, which made Hip-Hop/rap sound like a complicated art form. One that requires you to study, beyond just knowing classic rappers, but understanding the foundation of rap is more than sampling and commercializing your work. It’s about understanding rhyme, what a double entendre is, and almost having a thorough understanding of linguistics.

Which isn’t downplaying Chance and T.I showing how much they value those things, but they never take it as far.

The Fact Everyone Wrote For Themselves – 85

It can not be understated the ability to write your own songs, especially in hip-hop. Unlike singers, who can rely on their voice and aren’t as harshly judged for not writing their own music, if a rapper isn’t an integral part in the creation of a song, they can be looked down upon by purist. Which, considering this show leans more towards being accepted by that audience, you have to appreciate everyone wrote their own songs. Even if you didn’t necessarily like what they wrote.

The Top 4 Made Sense – 84

We started at 30 people, and by the last episode we had four. Some rappers you may recognize like Cakes Da Killa, Sasha Go Hard, amongst others. Yet, between messing up or not going hard enough, you come to understand why they got cut off. Granted, as noted below, if they had a mentor, maybe they would have done better or have gone farther. However, this is a sink or swim kind of show, and while the judges give comments, their comments were as helpful as someone safe, offshore, telling someone stranded at sea a storm is coming.

Low Points

The Judges’ Biases – 65

Yung Water raising up his baby doll head.

Yung Water

Whether we are talking about Chance being goo-goo over anyone who is a Christian, and against anything which seemed slightly out of his comfort zone, to Cardi B constantly wanting someone who had Instagram worthy lyrics, many times you may find yourself rolling your eyes. Plus, there is this constant tug between artistry and being commercial. Even to the point of the judges questioning what white people would or wouldn’t buy, especially during the audition segments. Making the fact the show ended up with 4 good rappers almost seem like sheer luck.

Most Of The Rappers Blended In – 64

But, with that said, none of them are trendsetters or would bring anything new to the rap game. While none of them are mumble rappers with a “Lil’” in their name, and more so are geared towards 00s rap, in that lies the problem. So many of them have a similar sound. For example, up until halfway through the season, it seems everyone was trying to race their way through every verse or song like they had a gun to their head. Also, while we know everyone has gone through something, the amount of time spent reminding us how hard everyone had it, while a staple of music competitions, got overbearing.

Though the biggest issue is that everyone is pretty much into urban hip-hop. Granted, D Smoke put a conscious spin on it, but his elevated raps didn’t take away from everyone sounding like someone else. Flawless Real Talk, per Chance, had a Drake vibe, and I’d say his cypher and battle raps could remind you of Puerto Rican Eminem. Londynn B, spoiling the end part of the season, was talked about more as a commodity than rapper since what she spits might be quality, but it isn’t exceptional.

Flawless Real Talk being interviewed.

And in many ways, this shows really helps you understand what is wrong with Hip-Hop and Rap (if you consider them genres separated by tone). They are genres that only really allow for diversity in hair and clothes. For those who go beyond that? Whose lyrics are different, think Yung Water, who don’t come from an urban and unfortunate background, or who aren’t Black, Caribbean or Latinx, it’s marked against you. Sam Be Yourself is a prime example of that since this show gave the boy a complex about having to prove being white didn’t mean his production skills are to be disregarded.

On The Fence

The Challenges – 75

Can we all be honest for a second, does any rapper really need to be able to do a cypher or battle rap anymore? Does anyone think Cardi B, if she went against any popular rapper, female or otherwise, could really hold her own and not possibly get washed? This isn’t me hating, but really wondering why would you have contestants do what all the judges wouldn’t be able to excel in?

Now, this isn’t to imply I don’t understand the culture and how many rappers showcase themselves and come up, but how many battle rappers have become stars on the level of Cardi B? As in #1 on Billboard Hot 100 as well as the R&B/Hip-Hop chart? Because, isn’t that what they are looking for? Someone who isn’t just big in their genre but a megastar? So what purpose is there for these people doing what might get them respect, but won’t gain them a hit? Is it just about finding ways to fill up a 10 episode season?

Cardi B: This shit is crazy.

Cardi B: This shit is crazy.

To me, considering how many songs the artists have to write, you’d think they would just have them do what they did in the latter half of the season. That is, make music videos, do collaborations, and give people an idea of what an album from them would sound like. On top of, if you paid to see them, what you would be in for. But note, I’m not a purist, so that’s why, while I get the purpose and history of cyphers and battle rap, I also think neither can determine a star.

The Lack Of Mentorship – 70

Perhaps one of the big issues with Rhythm + Flow is that, unlike most musical competitions, there is little to no coaching or mentoring. There is one person, King Los, who does check on the contestants and give pointers, but outside of him, most contestants get shallow critiques that often came on the cusp of them being eliminated.

This created a lopsided competition for you have kids like Ariyon, who aren’t even out of high school, competing with people like D Smoke and Flawless Real Talk, men in their 30s, who have experience either battle rapping, doing cyphers, or making songs. Thus leading you to wonder, what was the point of bringing on amateurs with no experience?

Well, the only answer I can come up with is the judges wanted everyone to pay their dues. Meaning, no one gave them this much of a leg up, so the contestants should be happy just for the exposure. So whether it is 2 days to write a song, come up with choreography, crafting a performance, or come up with a music video in a few days, they should be happy someone is giving them money, a director, and time to do so?

Londynn B not complaining, but noting how hard the competition is.

Londynn B: This competition is extremely hard.

I mean, ultimately, what Rhythm + Flow does is as Netflix does with its unestablished talent: Give them money, whether they are necessarily ready or not, and allow them to succeed or fail with someone else’s money.

What Each Judge Brings To The Table – 74

In the beginning, the fact Chance The Rapper came up as an independent artist, Cardi B through social media, and T.I the old school way made for a good mix. However, in time, you feel their individual paths matter less and less, and all that matters is they know the industry and how to commercialize not just their rhymes but their person. Combine that with them being rather hands-off with the contestants, and while there is enough there to legitimize them as judges, you may feel what they could bring to the table isn’t tapped into as it should.

Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)

The main issues with Rhythm + Flow is the lack of meaningful mentorship, the show finding a lot of people the industry already has, and the judges blending together as much as the contestants. Leading to us having 3 people who don’t really harness their different paths to stardom but just think commercial appeal. Leading to the hope that, if this gets another season, they switch up the judges and have it where it isn’t just artists. Bring a producer, a DJ, maybe someone who is a record executive who doesn’t operate a vanity label in which they are the only hit artist?

But, despite some qualms, this is a show worth sticking around and finishing. It’s the first of its kind, at least on a major platform with a notable budget, and the contestants do produce the kind of bops which will have you hoping there is a soundtrack out. For the flaws it has aren’t necessarily major, and many of them are only an issue for it goes against the norm of what most musical competitions do. However, considering this show doesn’t do covers, and all the work is original, Rhythm + Flow gives you a much better idea of what you are investing in than any other musical competitions on its level.

 

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1 comment

Josiah Porter June 27, 2020 - 2:24 AM

Yeah this was a great show IMO, but the judges seemed confused on exactly what they wanted.

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