The Flow is the 13th track (12th song) on Prince’s 14th album , the second to be credited to Prince and the New Power Generation.
The track was tried out extensively during soundcheck on 11 July 1990 at Wembley Arena in London, England. Tony M. began adding a rap which ended up being used in the track to The Future during later dates on the Nude Tour (beginning 5 August 1990, IJsstadion Thialf, Heerenveen, The Netherlands).
Basic tracking of the Studio version was done at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota on 11 September 1990, shortly after Prince returned from Japan after the last show of the Nude Tour
The track was included as the 13th and final track on the December 1990, configuration of the Diamonds And Pearls album, but was removed for later configurations. This original version features prominent vocals by Rosie Gaines. She was credited with Prince and Tony M. as one of the author of the song at the ASCAP.
In December 1990 Prince incorporated the rap into an early version of Live 4 Love, at that point also using the bass-line, that would later be used for the 1992 re-recording as well.
The track was re-recorded without Rosie Gaines in early 1992 at Paisley Park Studios.
It was included as the 17th track (eleventh song) on a March 1992, configuration of the album and the 17th track (twelfth song) on a late Summer 1992, configuration, before the album’s segues were removed for release.
The 1990 version of The Flow contains a chant of "Ain’t no stoppin’ now" by Rosie Gaines sampled from an early mix of Daddy Pop which was recorded earlier in June 1990. The Flow also shares other elements with Daddy Pop such as the groove lifted from Rock Steady and chant of "Michael B. in the house" (the latter two aren’t considered to be samples or references to this track, however).
Of note in the re-recording is that a lyric about "the brother" was changed to "the woman" to fit in with the female reporter storyline running throughout the album.