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.
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), but basic tracking only took place on 11 September 1990 at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota (during the same session as Fancy Dancer, Horny Pony, Jughead and a reworked version of Something Funky (This House Comes)) within hours of returning to the USA from the Nude Tour in Japan. 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. The track was re-recorded without Rosie Gaines in early 1992 at Paisley Park Studios (during the same set of sessions that produced The Continental, Damn U, Born 2 B.R.E.E.D., With This Tear, Qualified and a revamped version of Sex). 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 contained a chant of "Michael B. in the house", which was later reused on Daddy Pop; this isn’t considered to be a sample or reference to this track, however. It also utilizes the same groove lifted from Rock Steady that was later used for Daddy Pop. It was tried out extensively during soundcheck on 11 July 1990 at Wembley Arena in London, England.
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.