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Timbaland to exit 'Empire'

Timbaland to exit 'Empire'
The producer will be replaced by Rodney Jerkins and Ester Dean. (Chuck Hodes / Fox)

Timbaland's futuristic hip-hop has been the backbone of Fox's hit series "Empire" for each of its first two seasons. Now the acclaimed producer is leaving the show.

In a report in Billboard, show executives announced that Timbaland will be replaced by producer Rodney Jerkins and the songwriter Ester Dean. Jerkins has worked with Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and Beyonce, while Dean has written hits for Katy Perry, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, among many others.

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"We were happy to work with Timbaland during the first two seasons," said Shawn Holiday, senior vice president of A&R for Columbia Records, the home of "Empire's" soundtracks, in a statement to Billboard. "But we wanted to take a different approach for Season 3."

"Rodney is a dynamic, multi-format producer experienced in urban, rhythmic and pop. And Dean excels at writing big songs with catchy hooks," he added.

The show's soundtracks have been pop-chart staples, with the first installment hitting No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It was the first TV soundtrack to claim that spot since 2010. The two albums from the second season hit number 16 and 26, respectively.

The music-writing staff for the third season of "Empire" will also expand to include songwriters Makeba Riddick (Rihanna, Beyonce), Jesse St. John (Britney Spears) and Johntá Austin (Mariah Carey) alongside recent regulars Ne-Yo and J.R. Rotem.

Guest singers slotted for appearance in Season 3 include Mariah Carey, who has a planned duet with Jussie Smollett, French Montana, Biz Markie and Cash Money Records' Birdman.

Representatives at Timbaland's label Interscope did not immediately return requests for comment.

For breaking music news, follow @augustbrown on Twitter.

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