Right away you know the Lyons were ready for war as Jamal belted “Battle Cry” in the studio right before the feds rolled up to the Empire headquarters in search of answers. While Jamal is desperately trying to piece together a struggle album in the midst of his murderous family drama, a throwaway character playing an artist thirsty for Jamal’s loins captures his essence in primary colors.

Which brings us to Jamal’s house where he jumps on the keyboard to play “When Love Finds U” and the man paid to capture his spirit is mesmerized by Jamal’s fake piano playing. I am on #teamshade for this guy along with Jamal’s boo. I thought this moment was hilarious, but the beat was real and Jamal is provided with all the ingredients to make a solid album. “When Love Finds U” is wonderful, and I’m willing take a wild guess that Jamal, aka Jussie, is going to release a real album when the season is over.

I have to say, as ratchet as these people are, they are not about to let anything come between their family. When it’s time to make money or keep someone out of jail, they will shoot a music video or make a beat before you can say Boo-boo Kitty.


I want to take time to give a shout out to Empire saluting the injustices black people go through every episode with very direct commentary on real issues. There are no subtle themes in the music or in the lines delivered week after week. That is something to sing about.

The “Aint About the Money” video speaks directly to that. This video attempted to do a lot of things, but the ode to “California Love” was a nice touch. Tupac was always about black power and the people. I also felt a “Run This Town” Vibe, which was well played. I’m always here for direct allusions to black power. Black people need to make powerful statements about how we are oppressed. Empire never lets their larger statements get in the way of  the show, nor does it turn those statements into a token. Instead, it highlights that black people are capable of being complex. They can make hit songs, they can be ratchet, they can have a strong family and they can care about justice.

When Cookie leaves the video shoot and says, “If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide.” I didn’t think that was in poor taste, instead I thought it was expressing a wider truth for all black people. Whenever we encounter police we don’t know if we will leave the encounter alive. Hearing songs about war and power throughout the episode shows how black people have to juggle both realities, sometimes back to back.  


Hakeem is winning my heart for being a “mama’s boy.” I’m not sold on him being a drinker who hangs out in jazz bars, but I am impressed with his ear for music and finding talent. He’s living up to his word about behaving like a mogul and I hope he continues to grow into a talented artist.


Lago Azul was a stand-out moment, but the way the clips went back to the body digging for Vernon (R.I.P.) was a bizarre use of the music. Jamila Velazquez has a beautiful voice. I hope they don’t ruin her appearance on the show by having to reduce her musical talent to automatically equal sleeping with Hakeem, that is a boring use of strong female characters and we have seen that enough.

My dream for the next episode is too see Hakeem continue to succeed and for the holy water Andre has been sipping to give some inspiration to Lucious the Lying. I could use less of Jamal’s singing at this point and more cameos from other artists.