Empire, the fox musical drama television series, is breaking records every week. The hour-long family drama created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, centers around a Hip hop music and Entertainment company, Empire Enterprises. One undeniable aspect of the show’s success is the music. Fox’s senior VP of TV Music Geoff Bywayer said to expect the fictional musical world to collide with the real musical world; “We want to make the world of ‘Empire’ almost feel like a real music-breathing entity.”
Daniels wanted the music to have a reality based feel, to no dictate the story line, but definitely enhance it. He consulted with people he thought could give him a little more insight, his children. At the urging of his son and daughter, Daniels contacted super producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley, known for scoring hits with some of pop’s biggest artists including Madonna, Brandy, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z and Aaliyah. Timbaland, co-songwriter/producer Jim Beanz, and a team of other musical collaborators take their cues from the writing team, which gives them an idea of where the plot is headed, and craft songs to fit those themes.
No Apologies featuring Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray
Much of the music centers around Jamal Lyon played by Jussie Smollett and his younger brother rapper Hakeem Lyon played by Bryshere Y. Gray aka Yazz the Greatest. There are also an impressive bevy of music guest artists including Estelle, Jennifer Hudson, Gladys Knight and Courtney Love. Columbia Records will release weekly soundtracks of Empire on the iTunes Store, the same strategy used with Glee.
Gray, or as you may know him, Yazz the Greatest, is already a skilled hip hop artist in his own right. The Philadelphia rapper hasn’t officially released his debut album yet, but he’s already made plenty of buzz. Gray has toured and appeared at music festivals around the country.
Keep It Movin (excerpt) featuring Serayah McNeill and Bryshere Y. Gray
Smollett began his acting career as a child, co-starring in the films The Mighty Ducks (1992) and North (1994). On television, he starred alongside his five real-life siblings in the short-lived ABC sitcom On Our Own from 1994–95. In 2012, Smollett returned to acting with the leading role in the LGBT-themed comedy-drama The Skinny he also released his first album, The Poisoned Hearts Club. In February 2015, he confirmed that he had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and would be releasing an album in the future
You’re So Beautiful featuring Jussie Smollett
Conqueror featuring Jussie Smollett and Estelle