I commend Cardi B for having the greatest idea of 2019 and putting together a Netflix special to seek out the next hip-hop superstar. With the help of Chance the Rapper and T.I., as well as other hip-hop legends, they’re scoping out their home cities to find the best of the best local artists to send to L.A. for competition.
What the judges are looking for:
- “You ain’t gotta be tough, you ain’t gotta be gangster, but you gotta be real.” – T.I. (Atlanta, GA)
- “I hope I find somebody who’s gonna make people wanna be your fans, who’s gonna follow you, wanna be like you.” – Cardi B (New York City, NY)
- “What I’m looking for is originality, stage presence, and lyrical prowess.” – Chance the Rapper (Chicago, IL)
The winner of the Rhythm + Flow competition will be awarded a quarter million dollars, no strings attached, to take care of business and make their dreams a reality.
LOS ANGELES AUDITIONS
Judges panel: Chance the Rapper, Cardi B, T.I., and guest judge Snoop Dogg
Cardi, Chance, T.I., and the “Dogg Father” Snoop made a perfect judges panel for the first round of auditions held at Nightingale Plaza. Each of them were humble and good hearted, teasing each other and feeding off each other’s energy. They were cracking my shit up with their commentaries, Cardi B’s silly sound effects and accents, and you know Snoop was smoking J’s all night. They hyped up the contestants when credit was due, while also giving real, beneficial critique that each artist could apply in honing their craft.
Our favorite L.A. auditionees:
- Ali Tomineek from Phoenix, Arizona came out with a Rubik’s cube and a quirky personality. His vocal nuances and gimmicky dance moves made him real fun to listen to and watch.
- Ray Khalil from Torrence, California was invited by Chance the Rapper to audition after he heard her spit a verse in Anderson Paak’s studio earlier that day. She shared her family’s creative involvement in the civil rights movement, using the momentum from the trailblazers in her family to prove that it’s her time to do the same with rap music. Anderson Paak and all four judges were super digging her unique sound and flow, confidence and charisma, and neo-soul style.
- D Smoke from Inglewood, California is my favorite contestant for sure. With his father’s influence and discipline in the home, he stayed out of trouble by applying himself to music and academics. As a Spanish and musical recording teacher, Smoke brings a whole new level of maturity and creativity to the rap game.
- Old Man Saxon from Denver, Colorado was really entertaining and engaging with his nerdy persona, both incorporated in his vocal nuances and old-school suit and tie attire. His clever lyrics pulled full-hearted laughs out of Chance and it was beautiful.
- Inglewood IV from Inglewood, California was recruited by T.I. when he visited the late rapper Nipsey Hussle’s 1500 Sound Academy earlier that day. His verse at the academy was more authentic, showing off his personality and story way better than his audition song, which came off a bit aggressive, but the judges gave him a chance to “shoot [his] shot at changing [his] life” in L.A.
NEW YORK AUDITIONS
Judges panel: Fat Joe, Cardi B, and Jadakiss
Cardi B’s opening statement for the New York hip-hop scene: “I feel like every NY rapper is different from any other place in the country. What makes you is your hood; I’m a big representation of my hood. Hip-hop is such a big part of NY culture. We just have this cocky style when we rap, when we walk, when we talk. We’re very aggressive; you can tell that we want it, that we’re hungry.”
Our favorite NYC auditionees:
- Beans from Reading, Pennsylvania is a tiny Puerto Rican girl on fuego. This little chick packs a punch with her flow and delivery. She’s gonna go hard in Cali.
- Cakes da Killa from Brooklyn, New York has got the bars, he’s got the flow, and he’s got the style, but the judges want to see if he’s got what it takes to beat his competition and be that first gay rapper in the hip-hop community.
- Felisha George from Maplewood, New Jersey looks like a queen and stands like a queen! She looks intelligent and her verse blends New York with her own unique, new sound that makes her stand out for sure.
- Kay Makavel from Bronx, New York showed up at the radio station Cardi appeared on earlier that morning and was invited back to audition at the club. You could really feel her heart and soul, her whole story, poured into her verse. She seems super humbled and diligent and has got a lot of fire behind her to push her forward.
- Flawless Real Talk from Providence, Rhode Island is a family man and hungry for this lifestyle. Before Cardi even said it, I thought he sounded very Eminem-ish, and we like it.
Judges panel: Quavo, T.I., and Big Boi
As T.I. says of his city, Atlanta is no stranger to success, birthing artists like Outkast, Ludacris, and G-Eazy, so he’s confident that this is where they’re going to find the next hip-hop sensation.
Our favorite Atlanta auditionees:
- Amavi from Atlanta, George came out dressed like a 90’s baby and rapped for her brother. Her goal is to give hope to the young guys in the streets and let them know they don’t have to be in that predicament. Her verse coming from her brother’s perspective gave me goosebumps.
- 2’LiveBre from Nashville, Tennessee is a goofy dude with wild hair and double-pierced nose, and he rocked checkered overalls for his audition. His goal is to bring the fun back to hip-hop. Being from Nashville, Glasse got an exclusive statement from him about his audition and his intentions with his music.
“It was amazing to be the only rapper representing Nashville in Atlanta. I grew up on a side of town where being the guy that actually smiles would be considered corny or soft. I feel like our community has to understand that it’s okay to be happy. It’s really not about being Gangster; it’s about being who you were made to be. That’s why I’m 2’LiveBre because I’m always myself in any position that I’m in. I don’t let anything fold me, and my music represents that because it’s an escape for people that are probably in the projects. I want people to listen to me and be able to just party and have fun. That’s my purpose. I want people to be able to live, so my name 2’LiveBre comes from that.”
- Troyman from Atlanta, Georgia has a really chill, soulful vibe. He rocked a fedora, was super sweet and respectful, and he spit some fire wordplay in his bars. T.I. linked with Killer Mike earlier that day at the Barber Shop to check out local talents, in which he invited Troyman down to the official audition. He seems to have a stellar mindset and perspective, so let’s see him rock it in L.A.
- Londynn B from Atlanta, Georgia showed up in a Cruella DaVille getup with a black and white patterned bodysuit, black gloves, and a magnificent curly black and white fro. B was articulate, high-energy, and a spitball of fire. T.I. even applauded her with a humbling compliment, “I think that you have incredible stage presence, I think that your lyrics and delivery were on point, and I don’t think that you could have imagined a better performance. I’m honored and proud to invite you to the next level of competition.”
And that’s a wrap for Atlanta. There’s definitely some drip in the South, as Quavos said.
Judges panel: Twista, Chance the Rapper, and Royce da 5’9”
Chicago is my home city and Chance the Rapper is my duuuude, so I was super stoked to see all the incredible talent this city is bringing to the competition. Chance started the day off at the Carol Washington Library, an amazing free library where he could come every day after school to record “10 Day.”
Our favorite Chicago auditionees:
- Big Mouf’Bo from Chicago, Illinois representing Inglewood earned herself a ticket straight to L.A. from the a capella pre-audition due to her powerful, well-written and articulated political verse that earned her a standing ovation from the audience.
- Sam Be Yourself from Chicago, IL came out rocking a chain necklace, flannel, beanie, and glasses. He’s a white boy rapper with actually a really nice rapping voice to listen to. He switched it up with a freestyle bar incorporating the judges names and also added an a capella line at the end to say, “If I don’t get picked, I still won’t stop, I’ll see you at the top.” His well-written verse and positive attitude impressed the judges for sure.
- Sasha Go Hard from Chicago, IL has been doing music for a long time and is ready to get her family in a better position. Chance and Twista were already familiar with her, saying she’s “the famous rapper in Chicago” right now and were super excited to see her audition.
- Jakob Campbell from Denver, Colorado had the happiest smile on his face his entire performance, such awesome energy, while spitting his truth, his story. He implemented advanced tactics and delivery. The judges had nothing bad to say about his performance and sent him to L.A.
Overall there was amazing talent coming from all over the U.S. Each judge is convinced that they’ll be the one to find the next hip-hop superstar from their region of the country, but only time will tell. They’ll be putting these artists in real high pressure situations. This competition isn’t going to be some regular rap show stuff. In the second season of episodes we have cyphers, rap battles, and music videos to look forward to, and each contestant will have to fight tooth and nail to impress these iconic judges.