I’m sure you’ve heard about Rhythm + Flow streaming on Netflix if you haven’t watched it yet. Three judges, Cardi B, T.I. and Chance the Rapper head to their hometown to find the next “big rapper.” Here’s our main take from the show:
REALITY TV IN HIP HOP
This isn’t the first reality tv show that has taken space in hip hop, however, it is the first to focus on the talent and not drama. Rhythm + Flow features actual rappers who have been on their grind for years! We see raw emotion from those who think they deserve the spot. This type of show opens the understanding that the general audience has of hip hop. You see the variety that exists amongst hip hop from rappers that focus on melody and some that focus on punchlines. Then there are others that carry a lifestyle and message which overpowers theatrics. On Rhythm and Flow, all artists get the spotlight as the show is cut up into different sections.
Rappers compete in popular clubs and theaters to introduce themselves then they move on to more intimate rap cyphers just for the judges. The show doesn’t focus primarily on rapping, the artist must come with stage presence, a story, creativity amongst other traits. The judges are sure to let them know rapping alone is not what it takes to make it. It takes on the role of artist development which is something that is usually kept behind the scenes for the artist. The importance of producers and directors becomes apparent during the music video episode. Some contestants realized the challenges of studio sessions with new producers as they had to create original music for those music videos. We realize how much effort from an artist and their team goes into creating our biggest acts.
We got a chance to speak with a contestant from the earlier part of the show, Joie Kathos from Philly. Joie has been published to The Fader and received over 14,000 views on her “Slay” music video. Here’s what she had to say about competing on the show :
“Being able to represent Philly on a huge platform is a blessing honestly because I feel like I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without being from such a dope city. I hope Rhythm + Flow returns to Philadelphia to comb these streets as well because there’s a lot of rich history and hip-hop culture they only scratched the surface by allowing me to take part.” – Joie Kathos
As great as it is to see hip hop’s impact on the world by seeing a competitive reality show we can questions if it has a total benefit to the authenticity of hip hops origins. We asked Joie if she had any hesitation participating :
“I had some resistance competing in the show simply because I don’t watch reality tv and I don’t think the value of my work as a diverse artist and business woman could be determined by winning a televised talent show. I care about the work I do in my community more than fighting for the “best rapper alive” title, so I continued with the show because I thoroughly love performing and spreading hope to the people. I was humbled and really honored to be given an opportunity to take part in the first place.”- Joie Kathos
Rhythm and Flow is a great opportunity to get the crowd to know your name and gain experience in the music industry. The show has bubbling energy and it includes talented and helpful producers as well as coaches like King Los to create a quality experience. This season’s winner D-Smoke repped Inglewood, California as he used religious references, bilingual lyrics, musical abilities, and an authentic persona to win over the judges. This show holds a great capacity for the artist to emerge regardless if you win. Contestant Londynn Bs song from the show “I Can’t Change” has charted at #11 on the Top 25 charts. Caleb Colossos dropped his EP tape “When Painters Smear” and other artists such as Felisha George from Maplewood, New Jersey left a heavy message of self-love and represented passion. Recently, we saw her hosting an event in Jersey and asked her how she feels about the show.
“The show itself brought not only great relationships and people who I now consider as family into my life, but it also gave so many artists an opportunity to showcase themselves on a world wide platform. I also feel like it hit the gas on helping the culture shift. The shift isn’t here yet, but it’s coming.” – Felisha George
We agree on the shift. This shift is authenticity being at the forefront of Hip Hop. We’re definitely looking forward to season two!