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What is Flow in Rap


There has been an age old dispute about the meaning of flow. What is flow and how come every single rapper has a different one? This article aims to answer this question, so just read on and the concept will get clearer.

The Meaning of Rap Flow

The easiest explanation of flow is to say that it’s the way someone is rapping. However, this definition is quite vague and can be interpreted in numerous ways. Another definition is needed.

“Flow is the combination of two elements, that determine the overall sound of a rapper. The two elements being rhyme schemes and intonational techniques.”

This is flow. So, if you want to determine someones flow, you just pay attention to his rhyme schemes and intonational techniques.

Rhyme Schemes

We have a whole section dedicated to learning and mastering different kinds of rhyme schemes and all there is to it, is choosing:

  • what kind of rhyme words will you use
  • how many of them will you have
  • where will you put them.

This is the essence of a rhyme scheme.

Intonational Techniques

Intonation is the rise and fall of the voice. It’s the fluctuations of the voice. For example, you know that the sentence “I can’t wait to see you.” can have 5 different meanings, depending on the intonation used. Therefore, intonation derives from feeling and emotion.

feel the instrumental

Each rapper has a different(sometimes similar) intonations and this is because each of them has a different attitude and demeanor. Each rapper is carrying himself in a different way. Therefore, the intonation of their bars is different.

Think of intonation as the spirit of the rhyme scheme. A rhyme scheme without intonation is lifeless and boring, but once you give it an intonational pattern, you give it life.

There are Always New Frontiers to be Discovered

There is no set number or limit of rap flows. There are numerous different combinations that can be employed for something unique and better to be created.

Remember that if two rappers write the same rhyme scheme, but use different intonational techniques, then they will sound totally different from each other. Don’t think that you’re too late, because a true maverick only builds on what was already built.

What do you think about this? How do you define flow? When you tried to understand it back in the day, what was the thing which made the concept crystal clear?

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  • June 18, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Wassup guys, I’m a 17 year old aspiring rapper looking for critiques. My producer said I have potential but I need to find a rap style that would suit me. My favorite one that I wrote is my “Dead Wrong” Remix, I would appreciate it if you check it out. http://www.soundcloud.com/walleyszn


    • Soothesayer
      June 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      you’ve got bars in the nigga better have my money, no doubt. different sound too, like the ‘i got bars like the sentence long’, you kinda remind me of Lil Wayne with your metaphors and shit, which is dope since he was my favorite as a teen. Chance is a current favorite who was also inspired by Wayne, didn’t know some of those other inspirations of yours had bars or could inspire people to have bars. Iggy and Azalea? Never really gave em a chance then. But yeah, keep at it, your sound will get more polished. I’ll check the other later.


  • June 15, 2015 at 3:41 am

    I’m a new artist trying to find my sound but I would love any critical feedback on my current tracks, lol.


  • Mace
    June 4, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I think I have pretty good lyrics, my flow still needs work though. Any feedback would be great


    • Anonymous
      June 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Yo you step on the beat pretty well, it rolls. BUT you need to work on your tongue work, instead of trippin over your words (which actually isn’t too bad) you could pronounce your syllables a little better, and also try switching it up and spitting some of that faster. Good work though brotha, keep goin.


  • Ant
    March 17, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I don`t know where to begin is like I`m writing everyday i`m good
    but when i start to freestyle, I mess up on my words and
    I afraid i might get laugh at when i spit and i don`t know what i`m saying.


  • KayKayG
    October 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Will recording freestyles every day help with my flow??


    October 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I have a question, I feel like my raps (written) are good but I can’t figure out where on the beat to start flowing, like do you start your verse from a drum or a snare (clap) & take it from there ?


  • Anonymous
    October 21, 2014 at 2:10 am

    I define flow as… well compare it to a river. You want that river to “flow” in as exciting of a way as you can. You can have rocks sticking up out of it where you want, you can have a log, you can skip pebbles on it, just do whatever it takes to keep it from being a boring river.


  • Anonymous
    May 11, 2014 at 9:09 pm



  • Anonymous
    May 10, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Yo, I’m a 15 YEAR OLD LYRICIST

    South London Finest

    conscious rap

    True Hip Hopper



  • s.peter
    April 23, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I need help flowing iv been writing dor a while but I cant find it and people won’t listen to me cause my song arent good let me know please http://m.soundcloud.com/allen-stfort/kickpushpt-2


    April 21, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I just started recording, and I realized I needed to work on my flow a lot after hearing myself rap. Could you give me feedback on what i need to work on? https://soundcloud.com/blacklung-3/pakrat-bxkpxk-o-g Thanks


  • Casey
    November 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Thank you. I really appreciate your opinions I’m going get back in the studio and just lock in on my flow!! Thanks for the help


  • Casey
    November 24, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Thank you I really appreciate that. Basically I gotta work on the flow. What exactly do you mean by prolonging my bars. Adding more detail?? And any artists you recommend I listen to so I can hear how I should harmonize my voice? With me flow and harmonizing is probably the hardest part lol, everybody says I can write but they also say my flow is choppy and doesn’t really flow.

    Thank you guys again!! Those verses in my first song I wrote with a lot of help from this website


    • November 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      For a first song, it’s great man. You have talent, but it’s still raw. Give it time to develop.

      By prolonging your bars, I mean that you shouldn’t put too many pauses in them. Take less breath breaks.

      Who should you listen to? Yourself! Record your progress. The biggest skill you can develop is to know how to listen to your music as if you were listening to a random dude, not you. Once you know how to listen as the neutral listener, you don’t have to listen to any other rapper.

      Find the areas you need to improve and get to work.


  • Casey
    November 22, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I know you guys have a lot if knowledge and experience so is there anyway you could critique my song and tell me what and how to find MY OWN flow and sound. Got the lyrics


    • November 23, 2013 at 12:30 am

      In most cases, it’s just trial and error man. Your voice is probably suitable for one kind of flow, but not suitable for another. Experiment and record yourself doing different stuff each time, then evaluate the quality. You’ll eventually find your niche and build on that.

      As far as critiquing on your song, sure. Post your link, we’ll check it out.


      • Casey
        November 23, 2013 at 2:15 am

        Thank you I really appreciate that. This song was my first one I’ve ever recorded http://soundcloud.com/oookc_casey/who-shot-ya-final-no-concept/s-p164x


        • November 23, 2013 at 11:56 pm

          The first thing I realized was that your voice is “Big Sean” type, so it’s not really suitable for all of those pauses in the beginning.
          Try to avoid chopping up your bar on too many parts man. It would sound better if you do longer bars.

          Also, the other thing is that you might want to improve your ability to harmonize with the beat. At some moments, your voice became too separate from the melody and sounded like you’re missing beats. Otherwise, your writing game is nice. You got rhymes, your bars are dynamically written, plus you have different ways of approaching the beat.

          My advise would be to work on prolonging your bars and improve on your skill to harmonize your voice with the melody.


  • Casey
    November 22, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I am really stuck on this flow thing. I understand it but I can’t seem to find mine. I have lyrics I have substance I can switch the way I pattern lyrics but I can’t seem to find how I want to sound. My voice rapping sounds like Andre 3000 but a little younger. I know a lot of rappers are famous off there flow and with me I don’t want to just be the next rapper who has bars. Wiz Big Sean Kid Ink and a lot of other rappers are only good cus of the flow. I’m tryna have everything so basically I need help trying to find my flow in rap lol


  • Whitt
    October 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    One of my favorite rappers to hear flow has to be Jay-Z like if you noticed on the Black Album every song has a different one. Everyone could learn a lot about rapping by listening to the guy seriously


  • k.ray
    October 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    i dont mean to try to add more ish on you but i think you should do a segment on the chopper flow like with tech n9ne,yelawolf,busta, twista, etc. I’ve been trying to get it down for years but i just need a little extra guidance.. THANKS SO MUCH BRO!!


  • JayR
    October 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I agree, especially with the way of saying that sentence

    Flow in my opinion is the rhythms, voice and rhymes you use within bars


  • Jaga Jonez
    October 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    i agree with this as well….especially the last part. cos ive learnt the lyrics to songs like eminem or crooked i and messed about with how i pronounced certain lines and where i put the breathing room, it amazing how saying one line slower or fast can change the overall sound :)


  • JJ Bones
    October 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I overall agree. When I describe flow it is the rhyme scheme, how the rhythm of your words flows in the song.

    To me a song like “Look At Me Now” with Busta Rhymes, the flow is already built-in because of the scheme. So anyone can spit it and have the flow (in my opinion). They may not have the same delivery but the sound of the rhythm is already there if you just read the words.

    I guess most people would put delivery and flow into the same category. I look at them as two different things within the “performance” category. I think most have “flow” as it’s own category.


    • October 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Well, it can be argued, since every single rapper has his own rules of rapping. The definitions of the different elements can be all different and this is often confusing.

      As far as the “look at me now” song, you think that there can’t be a different intonation, because it’s fast rhyming, but not even fast rhyming is immune to intonation man. So, I think that there can be a different flow to the same rhyme scheme.

      I get what you mean though.


  • izRawL
    October 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    I think flow is what you said in a intotanion way and how move threw a rhyme scheme how you say it and the melody too it all makes a flow


  • michael lewis
    October 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    i kinda understand flow better
    casue when i listen to Kid Inks What I Do, he dose alot of intonation on alot of his rhyme words and it kind help me get the feel where to stress the syllabus at in the scheme


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