Rap relies heavily on imitation. There’s a constant cycle where the latest hot production style or go-to hook-man become ubiquitous, then fall out of favor, replaced by the next in line. It happens with every element from fashion to slang words. And flow—the rhythmic, sometimes melodic, style of delivery that makes rapping music and not poetry—is no different.
Flow is a point of pride for rappers. Who’s using whose flow? Who pioneered which style? Who switched the sound of the game? Sometimes, these questions are easily answered, as the borrowers will explicitly shout out those from whom they’re taking. Other times, it’s not quite as clear. And when that clear recognition is missing, the creators often end up feelin’ some type of way. Like when Rappin; 4-Tay recently took exception with Drake’s verse on “Who Do You Love.” Over the years, Drake has been known to use many flows initially pioneered by other rappers—from his acknowledgement of Big Sean’s “Supa Dupa” flow a few years back, to shorter riffs within his verses that serve as a hat-tip to pioneers. And he’s not the only one.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In that case, here are some very blatant instances of flattery: 10 Recent Rap Songs That Jack Flows.
Written by Adam Fleischer (@adamfleischer)