Empire is a musical drama television series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. It premiered on Fox in January 2015 and introduced the Lyon family, headed by Empire Entertainment CEO Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) — a troubled former drug dealer-turned-rap artist and businessman — and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson).
Each episode featured original music produced by Timbaland, with rapping and singing provided by the actors, including Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), Bryshere “Yazz” Gray (Hakeem Lyon), and Serayah McNeil (Tiana Brown).
After each episode aired, Columbia released digital download packages of the songs that premiered. Many of the tracks hit Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs chart, including Hakeem’s “Drip Drop,” Jamal’s “Keep Your Money,” and the duo’s “Money for Nothing.”
An incomplete compilation of the songs, Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 1, was released in March 2015 and reached the top of the Billboard 200. When the second season began that September, the digital releases resumed with more tracks produced by Timbaland.
Featuring guest spots from Petey Pablo, Timbaland, and Pitbull, the first volume of songs from season two of the series focused mainly on Jussie Smollett’s Jamal (who appears on 5 of 11 tracks), with fictional brother Hakeem (Yazz) receiving only three spots (one with his Latina girl group, Mirage a Trois).
Popular songs pivotal to the plot (Terrence Howard’s “Snitch Bitch” and his new protege, Freda’s (femcee Bre-Z) “Boom Boom Boom Boom”) were included on the collection. Season 2, Vol. 2 arrived in 2016, adding Yo Gotti to the list of the show’s guest musicians and peaking at number 26 on the Billboard 200.
The show’s fourth soundtrack — to Season 3 — was released in 2017. Mariah Carey (“Infamous”), Sierra McClain (“Black Girl Magic” and “Get Me Right”), Rumer Willis (“Crazy Crazy 4 U”), and Fetty Wap (“The Father the Sun”) all appeared on the compilation.
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