I get it. It looks incredibly easy to become a rap star.
Outside of the occasional docuseries—such as Netflix’s Hip-Hop Evolution and AMC’s Hip-Hop: The Songs That Shook America—deep-dives into the nuanced and ineffable talent requisite to become a rap star are mostly absent from major TV networks even as it seems like every channel is gathering celebrities to judge talent. Thankfully, Netflix, along with dozens of aspiring rappers as contestants and established artists as judges, are looking to change that with Rhythm + Flow. The 10-episode weekly music competition series puts dozens of rappers from across the country through ciphers, battles, sampling and other hip-hop challenges. Only one will emerge as the winner of $250,000.
The three main judges—Cardi B, T.I. and Chance the Rapper—represent different types of rap stars. Cardi B, who won best rap album at the most recent Grammy Awards, is the social media phenomenon that talks in Instagram captions throughout the show and mostly focuses on discovering what could sell. Chance the Rapper is the hip-hop purist who appreciates lyrics above all else as long as it’s not too dark for the perpetually ebullient MC. Then there’s T.I., the 20-year veteran of the panel.
More than anything, the trio represents an authentic look into hip-hop. So if you’re used to competitive yet tame competition shows like The Voice and American Idol, then Rhythm + Flow will feel like a punchline to the face, just as hip-hop is intended to be.