WITH SONGS overseen by Timbaland and Philly-based partner Jim Beanz, "Empire" has boasted plenty of radio-ready tunes. Here are 10 of them:
10. "Conqueror," Estelle and Jussie Smollett: The soaring ballad, lifted from the British R&B singer's latest album, was flipped into a duet after Columbia senior vice president of A&R Shawn Holiday brought it to Smollett. It rocketed to No. 1 on iTunes' hip-hop/rap chart after airing.
9. "Keep It Movin', " Serayah McNeill and Yazz (Bryshere Gray): "It was really fun to record," McNeill said of the club banger. "I went from the studio right into filming the scene."
8. "No Apologies," Jussie Smollett and Yazz: An early showing of the series' hip-hop grit, the anthem also serves as its main theme song.
7. "Can't Truss 'Em," Yazz: Despite Hakeem's arrogance, the youngest of the Lyon brothers has had to prove his mettle. This incendiary track helped.
6. "I Wanna Love You,"Jussie Smollett: Before landing the role of Jamal, Smollett was recording his album in a home studio, and this track is from those sessions.
5. "Walk Out on Me," Courtney Love: Love's bluesy, Raphael Saadiq-produced tune is one of a few contributed by star guests.
4. "You're So Beautiful," Jussie Smollett and Yazz: The jubilant party track is among the tunes Smollett penned.
3. "What Is Love," V. Bozeman: The searing ballad set the tone for the series in the pilot's opening minutes. "There have been so many people who have done YouTube and Instagram covers," Beanz said. "I've never seen that happen off of just a snippet of a song."
2. "Drip Drop," Yazz: Before "Drip Drop" was a viral sensation, with its ear-wormy chorus and infectious bounce, it was collecting dust from producer-writer Justin Bostwick's rap aspirations.
1. "Good Enough," Jussie Smollett: Smollett's fiery declaration is classic Timbaland, with its thumping production and sweeping chorus. " 'Good Enough' was perfect to play off the emotions of the powerful scene where [Jamal's] dad threw him in the trash can" for being gay.
- Gerrick D. Kennedy