The Voice coach John Legend looked around at the reality competition show landscape and realized that hip-hop was under represented. As a result, he went on to produce the well-received Rhythm + Flow competition series for Netflix.
In a conversation with the show’s season 1 champion, D Smoke, John explained why the competition he produced for Netflix is so unique.
I felt there was a huge gap in all these competition shows.
“I had been looking around at all these other talent shows and competitions and hip-hop did not have a talent show, a competition show, that really showed off how vibrant hip-hop culture is. And I have a production company that’s all about doing projects that are interesting, that are provocative, that are fresh, and that particularly shine a light on Black culture,” John said. “I felt like there was a huge gap. In all these competition shows, all these singers, all these chefs, all these other things, you just never saw hip-hop really being represented.”
It’s true. The short-lived FOX competition, The Four, featured a few rappers and hip hop artists. But the two winners were traditional singing show types: R&B singer Evvie McKinney won the first season, while pop singer-songwriter James Graham won the second.
Simon Cowell’s shows America’s Got Talent and the X Factor also featured a few hip hop artists. For instance, rapper Chris Rene came in third on X Factor USA on it’s first season. But in the end, singing shows are really built for vocalists to shine.
If we tried to do it at a network, we’d have to censor
John felt that the time had come for a show that featured the popular genre, without any boundaries, which is why he took Rhythm + Flow to a streaming service.
“We felt like it was long overdue that we did it,” he said. “The challenge was, if we tried to do it at a network, you’d have to censor, and if you censor hip-hop, it just wouldn’t have the same flavor to it. So when Netflix agreed to do the show with us, it was the perfect place to do it. That way, we could have it in its full rawness, and its full energy.”
The show featured Cardi B, Tip “T.I.” Harris and Chance the Rapper, on it’s season 1 judges panel.
Check out Rhythm + Flow streaming NOW on Netflix.