Empire has welcomed comparisons between real life music industry players and the characters in its made-up world since the pilot episode. Upon the show’s airing, people were quick to draw similarities between Lucious Lyon and Jay Z because, let’s face it, who else in today’s music world is important enough to be on the phone with President Obama?
Vulture made a list early this year of which real life artists might have inspired Empire’s characters, and at the top of it is Lucious Lyon. Vulture suggests that Lucious is 60 percent Suge Knight, 40 percent Jay. Like Jay, Lucious is a self-made man who started from nothing. Like Jay, Lucious was initially moving drugs in order to eventually finance his musical endeavors. Also like Jay, Lucious succeeded — and then some. Empire Records is essentially the made-up equivalent of Roc Nation, but what about Lucious’ actual music?
Empire writer Danny Strong revealed that Lucious’ story is based loosely off of Jay Z’s. Lee Daniels and company played into these Lucious-Jay comparisons in Season 2 Episode 2 via Cookie, who told son Hakeem that his father, Lucious, and Jay built their careers in similar ways.
The thing that really botches these comparisons, though, is Lucious’ actual rap career. Recall that in this same episode, Lucious recorded a song called “Snitch Bitch” from jail. Sidenote: “Snitch Bitch” is not the “Drip Drop” of this season. We’re not going to let it be that. No offense to Terrence Howard’s delivery or to Empire’s music team, but “Snitch Bitch” is far from sounding like a Jay Z song. The Lucious-Jay comparisons work out when you look at them as businessmen, but when it comes to the music, which Empire is based so heavily on, they fall through.
Maybe we chuck this up to casting. Maybe if Empire had found literally an older version of Hakeem, the comparisons would be more believable. Maybe that Cookie line was really all in good fun and Lee Daniels is trolling us all. Whatever the case is, Empire needs to do one of two things: stop comparing Lucious to Jay Z or get Lucious’ bars up.
I would prefer the latter because if I have to sit through another “Snitch Bitch”-esque song, it’s going to be a very long season. Also, I think Empire fans genuinely like drawing comparisons between the characters and real life artists. We just need the Empire team to give us something to back it all up.
What we really need is a Lucious Lyon concert, with special performer
Beyonce Cookie. And then we need a real life concert where Lucious and Cookie actually perform with Jay Z and Beyonce.
A girl can dream, right?