T.I. Talks About Executive Producing And Judging “Rhythm + Flow”
Last week Netflix launched the first four episodes of their new hip-hop competition show “Rhythm + Flow”. BOSSIP’s Sr. Director of Content Janeé Bolden sat down with T.I. to talk about the early episodes, filming with Nipsey Hussle and why this show is the most genuine representation of the culture. Check out their interview below:
How is “Rhythm + Flow” different from all the T.V. you’ve done before?
T.I.: Because it’s a hip hop competition show, these shows have been tried and they’ve failed. The attempt has been made and they’ve fallen flat time and time again. This is the greatest culmination of talent ever assembled for a hip hop competition show EVER. And this is the most authentic, most genuine representation of the culture by way of artists ever in a hip hop competition show. It checked all the boxes, it clicked on all cylinders.
The talent, as in the guest judges? Or the competitors?
The legends and the products of the culture that we assembled to select the talent definitely had a high key level to do with it. A level of significance to do with it but I’m talking about the talent itself. These motherfu**as made songs I could hear on the radio. These motherfu**as actually knew how they wanted their art and their images to be.
How did you find the talent?
We combed the streets. We said hey man, anybody want to rap? Meet me HERE. We did that in Chicago, we did that in Atlanta, we did that in New York and we did it in L.A. Out of everybody that showed up we picked the absolute best. I think we ended up with probably 30 out of each city and when we got to LA we narrowed it down to 30. Then 16, then 8. You know what I mean.
What does it mean to have Nipsey as part of the show?
It’s phenomenal. It’s legendary. That was really just a representation of what this show means. How significant and relevant. How authentic we set out to be. It’s just a clear representation of that.
What was it like working with Cardi on the show?
Cardi is lightning in a bottle, she’s a true epitome of an anomaly, you dig what I’m sayin? She transcends genres, age brackets, orientations, race… She’s a combination of Lil Kim and Tiffany Haddish. She also has a good heart. She really does want to see people win. It broke her heart sometimes to send people home. So I said, ‘Well let me do it.’ To be honest, earnest, true and at the end of the day, it’s gonna take for them to hear a very very harsh reality for them to put this behind them and make it where they need to be. Or for them to start over, regroup, and turn themselves into what they need to be in order to succeed, but patting them on they back, holding them and babying them ain’t gonna get them there no quicker.
A lot of the artists come from some pretty tough circumstances, did that factor into your decisions at all?
Everybody came from tough circumstances, I mean listen, I done been in this situation before. I didn’t have no kid, but I slept on the floor of the trap with my old lady, not Tamika but my girlfriend at the time, writing raps on a pallet in the corner. I heard No. That didn’t stop me I kept going. That’s how I got here. If I had been so down on my luck and so brokenhearted by rejection during that moment in time and those circumstances I wouldn’t have made it here now and guess what, if I quit then I didn’t deserve it to make it here.
The language is pretty explicit, do you that will deter people from watching with their families?
That’s the culture. Did that stop families from listening to a Snoop Dogg album? Alright then. That’s the culture. You gonna get some ni**as and weed smoke with the culture. It’s gonna come with it. It’s gonna be a little danger. It’s going to be a little off putting because it’s supposed to be, because if not, everybody would be here.
What’s the element that sets it apart from “The Voice,” “American Idol,” “X-Factor” and other shows?
Unapologetic authenticity. We ain’t trying to conform or comply with no rules, no standards and practices, or regulations we just doing us, our way, judging by our standards and using our own barometer.
You executive produced this show, how would you say you put your stamp on it?
We all three of us had executive production credit. I tell you what, the unprecedented release of how it rolled out, four, three and three [episodes]. I raised that point early on. With it being a competition show, if you release it how Netflix traditionally releases shows somebody is going to go to the last episode, find out who won, and spoil it for everybody. They had the back and forth dialogues and arrived to the conclusion. I think me, Chance and Cardi, we all had our critiques and criteria, demands and requests of what we felt it had to be or not be for all of us to be involved and they checked all the boxes.
Your style is really impeccable, how do you decide when you’re wearing a suit versus a more casual look?
It’s really how I feel. My fashion is a reflection of my energy, how I feel for the day, when I wake up, what I’m in the mood for. It’s like knowing what kind of song I want to make. What kind of energy is flowing through me at the time.
Was ATL your favorite place to film?
There is a lot of talent out of Atlanta, I will say Atlanta probably had the most finalists, after you cut it down from the first 30 Atlanta had the most finalists I think.
Will people be surprised about the winner?
Nope. I think it was anybody’s game, but as you go further into the competition you see everybody has their own strengths. With auditions you go up there kick your best sh*t and then you move on. Then you have a cypher where you have to not be the wackest out of this group of people kicking they sh*t to move on, the wackest people have to go. Then after that it’s a battle and the loser go home. After that we put them with cinematographers and they had to go conceptualize their own video using an original song and the weakest one had to go home. And then after that, they had utilize a sample. We put them with A-list producers and they had to choose a sample and perform that song and the weakest one had to go home. Then after that, we paired them with a-list r&b singers Miguel, Jhene Aiko and Teyana Taylor to do a collab. Then after that, they had to present an award show worthy performance with pyro, LED and so on, and the best one of that is the one who won. So it’s not just about rap, it’s not just about performing, it’s about all the elements you would need from 0 to 100 to get you in the superstar position.
What are you most excited for?
To see the impact that the winner has to move the culture in the future, because I think he — she — they — I think it will be dope to see how they transition into the industry. Also I think the ones who didn’t win, I think there’s gonna be at least two of them who will be like ‘Yeah y’all MFs should have picked me! Aha!’ I’m waiting for that too. I’m prepared.
Three new episodes of “Rhythm + Flow” will arrive on Netflix this Wednesday, October 16th. For more on the show, visit the website HERE.