Fox’s television series Empire, about a family in the music and entertainment business, is a smash-hit. It has not only received rave reviews and high numbers of viewers week after week, but also weaved its way into popular culture – from being parodied on Saturday Night Live to being referenced in ads for other shows (Weird Loners). Public figures have even claimed that elements of their lives were used as inspiration for certain characters. And that is not totally without merit. Therefore, with the premiere season set to conclude tonight, AllHipHop.com has compiled a “who’s who” list to see how some members of the Lyon family and Empire Entertainment compare to the real world Hip-Hop moguls and artists who have made an impact.
Lucious Lyon is Diddy and Jay Z: Lucious is the patriarch of the family of who parlayed his life experiences in the streets into a music career and helped turn Empire Entertainment into an amazingly successful company for which he sees his children being able to benefit from. Last month, Diddy said he was suing the show for basing parts of the show on his life and the events of Bad Boy Entertainment and not compensating him for it. Luscious Lyon and Diddy certainly share some similarities (i.e their white parties and kids who see the spotlight, having two sons involved in music) , but there are other elements of Luscious’ life that are more Sean Carter than Sean Combs. For example, just like Hov, Luscious became a mogul because he found success initially as a recording artist discussing hustling which helped build his brand, whereas Puff made an album after Bad Boy was already an established entity.
Cookie Lyon is Lil’ Kim: By her own admission, Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie, has said that “she [Lil’ Kim] was a champion, and she’s certainly Cookie’s champion.” All it takes is one scene and it’s clear to see the similarities between the two women. In addition to their beauty and outspoken attitudes, they also both did prison time to protect the ones they care about. In 2005, Lil Kim was convicted for lying to the grand jury to protect people in a 2001 shootout and went to jail for a year. On Empire, Cookie has just been released from a 17-year sentence for drug dealing while Lucious benefited from the profits of those sales by using that money to build Empire Entertainment.
Andre Lyon is Damon Dash: Andre is not musically inclined like the rest of his family, but it is largely because of his business acumen that Empire Entertainment is at the level of success that it is. Similarly, Damon Dash helped Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay Z thrive in the late 90’s and early 00’s in the same manner. When Jay and Dame’s business relationship soured, many perceived that Dame got the short end of the stick. And in a recent episode of Empire, Lucious voted against Andre running the company if/when he were to become incapacitated.
Jamal Lyon is Frank Ocean: They’re both very talented R&B artists who can sing and play instruments. It’s 2015, and so their open homosexuality, while it did get some attention initially, really isn’t an issue. And just as how some in the music community ( Jay Z and Beyonce) showed Ocean support for discussing that personal detail with the public, Cookie and his brother Hakeem have been there for Jamal.
Hakeem Lyon is Tyga: Hakeem and Tyga are both mediocre rappers with upbeat energy that gives them an appeal to younger audiences, yet they both want to complete creative freedom. Hakeem is asked to do a pop record at a Teen Choice Awards nomination ceremony (and Tyga has been linked to Kylie Jenner who co-hosted a music awards show for teen audiences), but later insists on not watering down his music. And while Tyga has been linked to mainstream gossip because of his aforementioned connection to Jenner, he also took a no-hold barred approach to his image by working on an adult film, Rack City: The XXX Movie back in 2012. And because the age gap between Tyga [25 years old] and Kylie [17 years old] has gotten attention, Empire flips that and has Hakeem, presumably in his late-teens, fall for an older woman instead, Camilla Marks (played by Naomi Campbell).
What do you think of Empire? Will you be tuning in tonight for the season finale?