Reveals the deep roots, poetic structures, and uncommon artistry of rap poetry and performance


Despite its global popularity, rap has received little scholarly attention in terms of its poetic features. Rhymes in the Flow systematically analyzes the poetics (rap beats, rhythms, rhymes, verse and song structures) of many notable rap songs to provide new insights on rap artistry and performance. Defining and describing the features of what rappers commonly call flow, the authors establish a theory of the rap line as they trace rap’s deepest roots and stylistic evolution—from Anglo-Saxon poetry to Lil Wayne—and contextualize its complex poetics. Rhymes in the Flow helps explain rap’s wide appeal by focusing primarily on its rhythmic and thematic power, while also claiming its historical, cultural, musical, and poetic importance.

The authors discovered their mutual love of rap music at the University of Michigan, where Macklin Smith taught a popular course in rap poetry, and Aurko Joshi was a student. Macklin Smith is Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. Aurko Joshi is Product Manager at Collibra, a data management firm.

Rhymes in the Flow is the product of great learning and greater passion. By turns playful and provocative, incisive and irreverent, the book excavates some of rap’s mysteries: how MCs flow to a beat, how the art of MC-ing has evolved over the years, how rap styles are born. The authors’ passion is apparent, as is the impressive range of their research. Smith and Joshi have written a hip-hop book like no other.”
—Adam Bradley, author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop

"Smith and Joshi deliver an extensive discussion of rap flow and flow variants nearly spanning the duration of rap’s existence. The author pair expertly combine deep knowledge of historical poetic forms and statistical analysis."

- D. V. Moskowitz