Season 1 of Rhythm + Flow was a triumph for rapper D-Smoke, who took the top prize, but here’s who we wanted to win.

Flawless Real Talk. With his 50-watt smile and family values, Flawless stressed the importance of winning the prize money so that he, his fiancée, two daughters and baby on the way could have a better life. Watching the strength of his cadence and his fiery performance in the rap battles is a wonder to behold. The Rhode Island native is a musical dynamo. Throughout the competition, he delivered perfectly executed rhymes and maneuvered through the rest of the series with nary a stumble. Not only that, but (spoiler!) Flawless Real Talk made it all the way through to the finale with an emotionally rousing performance that even left his family members in tears.

Rae Khalil. This feminist M.C. from Los Angeles is a sterling example of the strength of her community. Her grandfather was George Goodman, one of the first black music writers for The New York Times. Her great-uncle, Leon Washington, started one of the largest black newspapers in the United States. Rae’s sense of civic duty and desire to lift up her people is evident in her lyrics. She also sheds the notion that a successful female rapper has to sell sex to get ahead. Had Rae Khalil’s talent been nurtured a bit more on the show, there’s no telling the heights she could climb. 

Beanz. This Feisty Latina hails from Reading, Pa. Unlike a lot of the other artists on the show, Beanz is a lone wolf - and proud of it. From her first appearance backstage at the New York auditions, she displayed a no-nonsense attitude. Beanz has an aggressive presence when she raps. Her delivery rivals DMX or Lil’ Kim. Beanz never flaunted her looks or showed a lot of skin like some of the other female rappers on the show. Instead, she had the judges believing in her so much, they put her in a rap battle against Flawless Real Talk. While she gave it her best shot, Beanz forgot one of her verses and was sent home. However, we would’ve loved for her to get a shot at redemption, just to hear that mean flow once more.

Sam B Yourself.  From appearances, one might never assume that Sam B Yourself was as remarkable as he is. Chance the Rapper saw something in his perfect lyricism and “normcore” edge. His onstage persona hearkens back to the Beastie Boys and Third Base, with a tiny bit of contemporary artists like Logic and Eminem thrown in for good measure. The judges recommended that he cultivate a style that could make him more relatable. Sam B Yourself listened to those suggestions and came back strong - narrowly missing the chance to perform in the finals. He would have been a great winner because - more than the other contestants - he understood the concept of taking criticism and turning it into usable advice. Still, any of these rappers would have also made excellent finalists and even winners in season 1. Hopefully, some or all of them will return for season 2.

More: Rhythm + Flow: Why D Smoke Deserved To Win

Source: Netflix