“We just signed Ne-Yo who’s going to be writing all new music with Timbaland,” announced Fox co-chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman to the thrill of anyone who thought mid-’00s R&B was underrated. Fox also announced that Empire will stick around in its time slot, Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. As expected, Fox executives also said that the second season of Empire will consist of 18 episodes split into two halves — one for fall, one for spring — with a crazy cliffhanger for the midseason hiatus in which a fourth Lyon son emerges. He’ll be played by Zac Efron.
“It shows how viable our culture is,” said Northern California rapper Iamsu.
Even Fab 5 Freddy, one of hip-hop’s founding fathers, is down with it. “There’s going to be things that we disagree with, but it’s just good that they made an effort to put our culture on a world stage,” wrote the legend to me in an email. “Empire affirms the power of this urban culture that grew out of the hood and extreme poverty here in New York.”
With Empire, hip-hop’s past and present, from Sugar Hill Gang to Frank Ocean, have made it to the mainstream not just through abstract stories, but with direct references. “They cleverly alluded to scenarios that have taken place in real life,” Fab 5 Freddy wrote. Even if “at times it’s more like where the business was in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when record sales still dominated.”