Photo via variety.com

Five Stars  

The television market has become saturated with singing and talent competitions. Fan favorites like “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent” have been joined by “The Masked Singer,” “Songland” and the reactivation of “American Idol.” While singing competitions have taken over cable TV, Netflix was late to include these types of shows on their streaming platform. But recently they’ve included the Netflix original show, “Rhythm + Flow” featuring recording artists T.I., Cardi B and Chance the Rapper.

The structure of the show is similar to any of the same reality shows on cable: Contestants compete to become the next superstar. However, this time it’s rappers competing to be the next hip-hop superstar. Within the first few minutes of the first episode, it is easy to see similarities to “The Voice” and other competitive singing shows. Contestants compete in front of judges and go through different challenges in order to claim a prize.

But unlike other singing competitions, “Rhythm and Flow” specifically prepares hip-hop artists for a career in the field. The challenges work to provide contestants with real experience in the hip-hop world for their portfolios. It also fills a hole where hip-hop competition shows have not had a lot of success. But since this show is on a streaming platform, it can get away with not taking on the family-friendly tone that typical singing shows exhibit; it’s hard to have a show featuring Cardi B and not rate it TV-MA. 

The show doesn’t have to be censored, therefore, it is better able to show the raw and real roots of hip-hop music. The show doesn’t dampen rap’s inherent aesthetics nor does it censor the realities of minority communities. It reflects on the rough realities and ingrained racism in America and shows how music can help raise communities up and provide opportunity for artists. For these artists, the $250,000 prize is a way for them to escape violence and poverty as well as pursue the American dream.

The show pulls artists from each of the judges’ home cities. Cardi B recruited artists from New York City, T.I. pulled from the talent in Atlanta and Chance the Rapper found talent in Chicago.

The three pulled 30 artists together to begin the show.  From there, the artists went through different challenges. They created a group of individual hip-hop artists who come together and perform battle raps, make their own music videos and work with some of the best producers and rappers in the industry. 

If you like rap music, watch “Rhythm + Flow.” The show is incredibly constructed and the superstar cast provides personality and humor that will leave you laughing. The heartfelt stories and relatability of the artists will create an instant connection not only to their work, but to the individuals themselves. This show allows artists to tell their stories as well as define the future of hip-hop. 

Episodes for the show are released on Wednesdays as a part of a new structure that Netflix is trying that includes weekly television series’ similar to cable-style TV.