John Legend Discusses Hip-Hop's Lack of Representation on TV Talent Shows (Exclusive)

The singer serves as executive producer on Netflix's 'Rhythm + Flow' competition series.

John Legend is speaking out about hip-hop's lack of representation on TV talent shows.

In a candid conversation with Rhythm + Flow season 1 champion D Smoke, the singer explains why the Netflix competition series is unlike any other on TV.

"I had been looking around at all these other talent shows and competitions and hip-hop did not have a talent show, a competition show, that really showed off how vibrant hip-hop culture is. And I have a production company that's all about doing projects that are interesting, that are provocative, that are fresh, and that particularly shine a light on Black culture," says Legend, who serves as the show's executive producer. "I felt like there was a huge gap. In all these competition shows, all these singers, all these chefs, all these other things, you just never saw hip-hop really being represented."

"We felt like it was long overdue that we did it," he continues. "The challenge was, if we tried to do it at a network, you'd have to censor, and if you censor hip-hop, it just wouldn't have the same flavor to it. So when Netflix agreed to do the show with us, it was the perfect place to do it. That way, we could have it in its full rawness, and its full energy."

Rounded out with a judges panel made up of Cardi B, Tip "T.I." Harris and Chance the Rapper, season 1 of the competition series was a huge success, and D Smoke couldn't be happier about the opportunity he was given to compete on that stage.

"I am just overwhelmed with joy. I feel all the love," the Inglewood, California, native told ET just hours after the season 1 finale aired last October. "I worked hard to get to this moment. Words can't really express."

"On that stage, every emotion hit me at the same time," he added, of what he was feeling the moment he was announced as the winner. "I was just joyful, I was full. My family was there, it was an indescribable moment. And yeah, I even shed a couple of tears."

Rhythm + Flow, streaming now on Netflix, is contending in the competition program category for the Emmys. Legend's full conversation with D Smoke will be available on FYSEE TV on July 7.


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