Last Night, Empire Pushed Ridiculous To New Levels

Fox screenshot
Fox screenshot

***If you haven't seen this episode yet but intend to, you probably should not read further. If this is you, why'd you even click the link, tho?***


If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: I love Empire. Almost none of it makes any sense nor is it even remotely possible. That suspension of belief makes it the most entertaining show on television if only because you truly have no clue what corners the writers and producers are going to cut to get the conclusion they want.

For instance, last season, on episode 2, Cookie had somebody killed who knew she snitched. That storyline effectively died for the ENTIRE REST OF THE SEASON as if it never happened ONLY to reappear as the crux of the season opener last week. Or the tidy way they clean up problems. It's all very Tyler Perry-esque; you know, eschewing conventional wisdom, respectability, and common sense, in order to achieve whichever end is necessary to tell the story they just thought up five minutes before. Because of this, I love the show. They're not even pretending anymore. It's a full fledge act of fictional impossibility at this point. Like, I STILL don't understand why Luciuos Lyon is a superstar rapper. All of his music was fair to middlin' at best. But on Empire, he is God and God is Lucious.

(Also, one sticking point from last episode that REALLY perplexed me. Lucious is in a New York jail. Not on fed charges I believe, but state charges. In NYC, so I'm guessing he's on Rikers. DeRay [can't remember his character's name, don't matter #doe, he dead now] and Frank Gathers (played by Chris Rock) are two hoods from Philly who have ended up in jail…in New York??? DeRay killed ole dude in Philly. He's in jail on some sort of robbery if memory serves correct. In Empire World, everybody from San Diego to Maine ends up on Rikers.)

Which takes us to last night's episode. Lucious is still locked up, which he deserves to be since he just had Frank Gathers killed last episode. Actually, to hell with a synopsis, let's just get to the part that was EXTRA especially non-sensical.

While Jamal is visiting his father to talk about Hakeem leaving Empire, Lucious requests recording equipment because he has music he needs to get out (which we got a preview of earlier in the episode when one of his entourage wanted to hear him spit that new hot verse he's been working on, which would become the song "Snitch Bitch" which, because Empire, all of his homiez already knew the words to, because Empire). Bubbles from The Wire just happens to be there at the table next to him PRESUMABLY talking to a client of his but somehow just drops his client - who we never see, but who cares because Empire - to try to convine Lucious to let him be his lawyer. Oh, he got his law degree from the University of Guam. Not to be a stickler or anything, but do you know what graduate school the University of Guam doesn't have?

A law school. How do I know this? Because I googled it.

Because Empire.

Fake law degree aside, Bubbs tells Lucious that the prosecutor plays dirty and is withholding his meds. Lucious wants a meeting. Next thing we know he's got his meds AND somehow a recording setup has been created in a really big room and all of his entourage are already there waiting for this 65 minute studio session before the shifts change…courtesy of Bubbs, whose name is not Bubbs on this show but I can't remember what it is.


This is where the show goes totally off the rails. To recap, Lucious Lyon, a prisoner in jail I believe for murder (I actually can't remember why he's in jail) has had somebody craft him a small makeshift studio inside the prison so he can record a song called "Snitch Bitch".

Apparently, each person in his entourage is equipped with certain skill sets. For instance, the white guy who helped kill Frank Gathers (Rock) is a musician so he INSTANTLY starts playing a beat using the MIDI equipment (a 25-key MIDI controller and drum pad). Because he's ready. Because hip hop. Because Empire. The mic is hot as I guess one of the other dudes can run the ProTools session?? These felons are really taking advantage of these programs, I tell you.


In ONE MOTHERFUCKING TAKE (which trust me is a rarity; I imagine somebody like Amerie probably offered hunnids of takes to get one verse down), they manage to lay the lead vocals, background vocals, adlibs, AND backing vocals from a person WHO WASN'T EVEN IN THE ROOM. That person would be Petey Pablo.

Read that back.



PLUS Auto-tune.

Not to mention, and this is just going to be a sticking point as somebody who has actually recorded in a studio…you ain't NEVER seen a rapper HOLD A MICROPHONE while recording a verse. You haven't. You'd get too much fluctuation in the sound levels that you couldn't edit out AND I'd wager that because of how loud he's rapping, you'd get all types of distortion.


The whole scene had me saying WTF, which is amazing on a show that produces WTF moments by the caseload. Somehow this song went from verse to FULLY MIXED AND MASTERED AND READY FOR RADIO in 4 minutes. Because…

…well, the session was interrupted by the cops (including a really pissy Ludacris) who took the laptop. But of course, Bubbs got it back and #wallah, the song is playing on the radio.


From jail.

Lucious Lyon managed to record, get guest vocals, master, and mix a record in under four minutes, FROM JAIL with the sound clarity of something crafted by Dr. Luke.


Man, I love this show.

Because Empire.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



I'm still mad about the poor job they did at explaining Kelly Rowland's role as the mentally ill mom of Lucious which is why he despises Andre so much. I'm over these cameos by these random black celebs. Just give me the story. I don't care about Ludacris. He can't act. His most successful role to date is the equally dry Fast & Furious series.