‘Flow” is considered the basic skill of an MC but if you asked any rapper to define it they’d probably have a hard time. It has something to do with cadence, alliteration, internal rhyme and tone; but in the end it’s about conveying the impression that the rapper has total command of the words being spoken. This takes a lot of practice, and there aren’t too many occupations where you can hone such skills.

One place where you can do it is on the radio. The popular Dirty South MC Ludacris first made an impression as a disc jockey on the Atlanta airwaves, so when he moved out in front of the turntables he was already an expert at flow. Moreover, he’d already created a persona that was fully formed: raunchy, funny, self-deprecating and totally fearless. There was a self-conscious cartoon quality to his first big single, “What’s Your Fantasy?,” which looked at dirty sex from both sides of the gender gap, and if Ludacris’s female take made a lot of women roll their eyes, at least he had the guts to give it a go.

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