Who Has the Best Flow in Hip-Hop?
I had a lot of options going through my head for this week's "RH Nation Answers" question. But after I wrote the post on Freddie Gibbs' "Paper" earlier today I knew what it had to be: Who Has the Best Flow in Hip-Hop?
As always, we need to start with some ground rules. Flow is almost impossible to define exactly, but for these purposes we need to divorce it entirely with lyricism. A rapper with a great flow could literally say "blah blah blah, rappity rap rap" and he'd find pockets and rhythms in the beat that would still make it sound dope. Someone with great flow doesn't just rap over a beat, he works with the beat to make the song even better.
Let's get into some candidates. I can't talk about flow without talking about Big Pun ("Twinz" alone is enough to earn him a spot in this discussion), and a pre-"Arab Money" Busta Rhymes absolutely deserves a mention as well (I'll offer up 'Gimme Some More' as an example). And of course we have to be talking about Eminem. I was listening again to his early-early "Wake Up Show (Freestyle)" and even way back then it was obvious that he possessed an extraordinary flow. Oh, and I can't forget Bone Thugs, they essentially invented the melodic flows that ever rapper after them has used.
In the midst of all that, I'm also fascinated by trying to figure out where Freddie Gibbs figures into this list. He certainly isn't as well known of a name as the guys I've mentioned previously, but I'm listened to enough Gibbs over the years to feel confident that he's got some of the best flow I've heard in the last five years...and I'm strongly considering saying one of the best flows I've EVER heard. Just listen to what he does with the "Rob Me a Nigga" beat:
Holy sweet baby jesus that man's got a next level flow, and he's got 100 more verses just like it.
One last note; flow often gets confused with speed, but they're not necessarily the same thing. Someone might be able to rap at 100 miles an hour, but if they rap 100 miles an hour regardless of the beat, then they're flow is terrible. Similarly, flow is related to, but ultimately separate from, personality and delivery. Ghostface is my personal favorite rapper of all-time, his lyricism is incredible, his personality is overwhelming, but I can' say his flow is particularly impressive.
Alright, let's do this damn thing people. Have at it in the comments below...
This article originally appeared on RefinedHype.com, which has now merged with The DJBooth. For more info, click here.
Written by Nathan S. on 04/10/13
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