Empire Season 2, Episode 8 Review: You Call That a Rap Battle?

I have questions. Help me answer them, beloveds.

By Michael Arceneaux

Last night’s Empire offered a rap battle that looked more like one of those dance battle movies your nieces and nephews beg to take you to see. Meanwhile, Cookie slapped the hell out of her new boyfriend after he shoved her son as Jamal pursued a huge deal with Pepsi. Oh, and Anika lost her damn mind. Yes, more than we thought she did before. I have questions. Help me answer them, beloveds.

Does Lucious understand how much of a bitch he is?

Valid question, but let me unravel a little more. What is Lucious so attached to Dej Noap again? What is it about Freda that has Lucious so enamored with her? Is it because she, too, has an overinflated ego, very little empathy for others, and has crazy eyes? Is this how sociopaths bond? Whatever the case, I don’t quite get why Freda is so willing to participate in Lucious’ little game of torturing his son Hakeem. If he does that to his son, Dej Noap, what in the hell do you think he’ll do to you?

Why was Dej Noap glowing?

No disrespect to whoever did the lighting on that opening scene last nite, but we have the real Missy back now. Let’s not do that again.

So is Def Noap so desperate for attention that she disses someone she’s never met?

I’m asking again as I am still confused by this story arc.

So Jamal is an icon already?

In that scene with the Pepsi execs in which they featured a future commercial with Jamal in mind, they dubbed him an “icon.” That’s cool. I mean, most people couldn’t get away with becoming an icon with no album out yet. However, ‘bout two weeks ago, Jamal was whining about the Staples Center not letting him perform in it for some mysterious reason. Now he is an icon with an endorsement deal shared by the likes of Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé. Is this that David Geffan-like character’s magic working? If so, is he the lost witch from Hocus Pocus?

I want Jamal’s character to be this big star, and in turn, usher in this conversation about why that has to happened in real life, but the structure of his impending stardom is jumpy.

Does Andre regret not sticking with his mama yet?

Andre was trying to be all Carlton Banks with Lyon Dynasty, feeling like he was too good to be in the startup trenches with his mama and baby brother. The end result is him being bitched out week after week by his father and Satan’s best frenemy. That’s what his ass gets.

Who is the stud with the interesting haircut in Hakeem’s crew?

Apparently, that was AzMarie Livingston, a former America’s Next Top Model contestant and ex-girlfriend of Raven-Symoné. I was intrigued. Thank you for answering me, Twitter.

Why hasn’t Boo Boo Kitty auditioned for a Love & Hip Hop franchise yet?

She’s so depressed about not having a job, so why not become the star of a franchise. She’s slept with Lucious Lyon and his son, Hakeem Lyon, and now she’s pregnant with his baby. I would so watch her lead a new spinoff. Meanwhile, is she also now Fatal Attraction or Single White Female? Oh, and an Uber driver, too. Like, if she about to kill Hakeem’s new girlfriend?

So, does Hakeem fall in love as often we as change underwear?

When Hakeem told Anika that he was in love with that quiet girl who looks like Cassie’s second cousin, I was just as bewildered as she was. We know Hakeem is good for being whipped, but why exactly is he in love with her? They’ve had very few truly intimate moments on the show thus far, and yet, we’re supposed to believe he’s in love. Maybe it’s his abandonment issues. That idea fits the gap better left by this odd storyline.

Should Cookie be focused more on Hakeem’s music?

If you notice, Cookie hurt Hakeem’s feelings again after spotting her on FaceTime or Skype talking new music with Jamal. At the very beginning of the season, Jamal morphed into the bastard child of Darth Vader and Lucious, getting totally disrespectful with his supportive mama and getting bitch slapped as a result. Weeks later, he’s nice to her again and she’s oh so happy he’s called for her ear. That’s cute, but Hakeem – who was truly mean to his mom out of hurt – is the one who left Empire Records and lent his name to his mom’s new dream. Shouldn’t he be sucking up all of her time instead?

Are Lucious and Cookie the worst parents ever?

Y’all are betting on your children’s futures? I should call CPS.

Can we talk about this rap battle between Freda and Hakeem?

Why did it look like the set of You Got Served? How did the audience members already know the words to their freestyles? Did Hakeem win because he did the Diddy Bop before each time he rapped and damaged property on the set? Def Noap kind of annoys me and I wish she didn’t get so much airtime, but I don’t see how he bested her. I like Hakeem, though, so I guess.

Was Jamal wearing a shirt or a very thin jacket? Or was it a bathrobe?

I’m specifically talking about what he wore during that performance for Pepsi. Also, did you love that mommy, daddy, middle child guilt trip fusion of a track? I thought it was too much and needed to stick with one sound — i.e. Cookie’s vision of the song.

How deep will Jamal’s v-neck get by season’s end?

I’m so looking forward to finding out.

Does Taraji P. Henson think Cookie and Lucious should get back together? See what she said below!