(AllHipHop Features) The stars of Fox’s hit series Empire have once again lent their voices to an upcoming album centered around the smash hit. Empire: Original Soundtrack, Season 2 Volume 2 - set to arrive in stores on April 29 - includes appearances by Serayah (Tiana Brown), Bre-Z (Freda Gatz), Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), and Bryshere “Yazz” Gray (Hakeem Lyon).
While he appears on several songs with his castmates, Yazz also has the solo single “Got That Work." The 22-year-old Philadelphia native lets it be known he is more than ready to sit at the top of the Empire pyramid. Yazz uses the record to rap about his prowess over an uptempo track produced by the legendary Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley and Mark Murrille.
AllHipHop.com has the official premiere of Yazz’s “Got That Work.” In an exclusive interview, the rapper-actor also shares his thoughts about the song, working on Empire, and more.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Empire's Bryshere Gray Talks Music Career, Working With Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard + Broom Beating Scene]
“Got That Work” definitely connects to Hakeem’s storyline on Empire. What does the song represent for you?
It’s just about talking about what’s going on in Hakeem’s life. I put that into the lyrics and made sure that it was authentic to what was going on with Empire.
What was the creative process like for making this single?
It was great. It’s grueling hours filming Empire. When you’re on the biggest television show in the world, you have a lot of lines to do. It’s 12 hours [on set], then I’m straight to the studio. Timbaland and Murrille had been working all day by the time I get to the studio. Then we get it in.
You have a few songs on the soundtrack with Jussie. At this point, what is that chemistry like now when you record together?
It’s always fun. That’s like my brother. When we record it’s always fun and energetic. And we order a lot of food. [laughs]
Speaking of the brotherly camaraderie between you guys, it seems like the whole cast has a lot of fun off-screen as well. There seems to be ongoing pranks.
We always play pranks on each other. Like when Malik Yoba was on set, he would change the ChapStick in the bags. One time I had his ChapStick. I was like, “Yo, what are you doing? I was about to put that on my lips.” We spend so much time on set together. It’s a lot of waiting, so we try to make the best of our time and have fun.
How has your life changed from a year ago when you first started on the show?
I went from sitting on my mama’s stoop to living in L.A. Everything changed for the better. I was working at Pizza Hut with $20 in my pocket. There was nobody I could get in the studio with, because I didn’t have the money to pay for the producers. All that's changed now.
Hakeem has been going through a lot in the last couple of episodes. At the same time, it feels like he’s matured a lot since the first season.
It’s a growing process, and I feel like I’m growing with the character. This is my first acting role, so I’m also growing up while he’s growing up on Empire. It’s great because it’s making me learn a lot. It’s really making me a better actor.
Can we expect any solo projects from you in the near future?
Yes, but as a true businessman, you don’t lay all of your goodies out in one pot. I’m just taking my time and enjoying my blessings. I’m putting together quality work, not quantity. I want to put together quality.
Check out the album’s cover art and tracklist below.
1) Freedom (feat. Jussie Smollett)
2). Crown (feat. Jamila Velazquez, Raquel Castro, Yani Marin)
3) Look But Don’t Touch (feat. Serayah)
4) Good People (feat. Jussie Smollett, Yazz)
5) Like My Daddy (feat. Jussie Smollett)
6) Shine On Me (feat. Jussie Smollett, Bre-Z)
7) All Nite (feat. Yazz, Serayah, Jamila Velazquez)
8) Body Speak (feat. Serayah)
9) Last Night (feat. Jussie Smollett, Bre-Z)
10) Get It Started (feat. Jussie Smollett, Kelli Wakili)
11) Got That Work (feat. Yazz)
12) Good Enough (Negrito Remix feat. Jussie Smollett)
13) Chasing The Sky (feat. Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Yazz)
14) No Competition (feat. Yazz, Serayah, Jussie Smollett)
15) Hemingway (feat. Jussie Smollett)
16) My Own Thang (feat. Jussie Smollett, Bre-Z)
17) Turn Around (feat. Bre-Z)
18) Fabulous (feat. DMK)
19) Never Let It Die (feat. Jussie Smollett, Yazz)
20) All Nite (Yo Gotti Remix) (feat. Yazz, Yo Gotti, Serayah and Jamila Velazquez)