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How the triplet flow took over rap

The “Migos flow,” deconstructed.

In 2013, Migos made it to the Billboard charts with "Versace." It was a viral hit and it put the spotlight on a very unique rap flow: the triplet.

The triplet is a standard in musical composition — it happens when three notes occur over one beat. In rap they work in a similar way, except the three notes happen to be syllables in a word or phrase. Triplets, especially those delivered in a sort of cascading cadence over an entire verse, are now so popular that nearly every mainstream rap artist has used them. Kendrick rapped in triplets in one of the most dramatic moments of his latest album, Damn., and Chance the Rapper used triplets on the opening track of Coloring Book.

In the video above, Justin Hunte and Martin Connor join me to tell the story of where the triplet flow came from and how it's been a common tool for rappers since Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's debut albums in the ’90s.

I’ve also compiled a few of my favorite rap songs that use the triplet flow in the playlist below. Try to spot them!

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