‘Empire’ recap: Hakeem ‘No Lyon’ battles Freda Gatz
In case you didn’t already know, Lucious is a horrible father. In this week’s episode, titled “My Bad Parts,” he’s no different.
While walking into Leviticus, Becky makes an effort to stop Lucious’ petty ways. But in true hard headed fashion, Papa Lyon thinks he knows what’s right. Grabbing the mic, he makes an appeal to all of the bloggers and web savvy millennials in the club to pull out their phones. He introduces Freda Gatz who’s debuting a new song directed at his son Hakeem, “Shots Fired.”
Apparently Freda is the “son his dad always wanted.” Now I’m not one to police anyone’s gender, but Freda’s continually toxic role in the deterioration of Hakeem and Lucious’ relationship isn’t cute.
While Hakeem is boo’d up with Laura, the lead singer of Mirage a Trois, he gets a text to check out the video. And since we know Hakeem acts irrationally when emasculated, he writes a check that he may not be able to cash. In a Periscope response, the Lyon cub challenges Freda to a battle “for the Lyon name.”
Things with Jamal are going well though. He’s in the running for a Pepsi deal against 10 other emerging artists. But he has a week to submit a song for consideration. Lucious commits to hopping in the studio to make it happen, but Jamal has other thoughts.
The next day he and Cookie meet at his house to work on a track. Because Cookie + Jamal = Magic. Knowing Lucious has control issues, all of this is behind his back. When mom and son are meeting up again, at Jamal’s apartment, Lucious pops in unannounced. As Cookie hides in a closet, Lucious introduces Jamal to a track he’s been working: something that sounds like a reject from Pitbull’s body of work. And no, that’s not a good thing.
Meanwhile Empire is trying to close this deal with the streaming company, but the potential partner is hiking up the cost. Though Mimi wants him to meet the new price, Lucious refuses. He wants to be in control, and Empire can’t afford it. In Mimi’s signature “I want to be black so bad” attitude, she challenges him to figure it out. Eventually, after trying blackmail and other shady acts, Lucious signs the deal because “Dre’s got Beats. Jay’s got Tidal.” And now it's Empire's turn at the streaming business.
Boo Boo Kitty flashes on the screen, and she’s gone boo boo the fool. Staring in her bathroom mirror, she holds a knife in one hand, seemingly about to commit suicide. In the other hand is a pregnancy test. She sets the knife down and takes the test. And yes, she's about to be a mom.
When Cookie gets word of Hakeem’s challenge to Freda, Mama Lyon is concerned. She knows that Freda is a battle rapper by trade while her son ain’t seen a battle except in a history book -- maybe. Both MCs go through a series of practice runs with their teams. But Hakeem’s got a secret weapon.
Before the big event, Anika has some news to share with the family. But in her true sneaky way, she withholds. One day she runs into Andre’s wife Rhonda. After a quick convo on how Lucious now treats Rhonda differently post baby bump, Anika starts to plot. She pops up at Hakeem’s, but when he tells her that he thinks he’s in love with Laura, the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head.
Back in Jamal’s world, he knows that he’ll need both Cookie’s track and Lucious’ to have the best chance at landing the Pepsi deal. Inviting the two to a studio session, he hopes they can bury the hatchet to help him. But when they arrive, the two don’t agree.
After Jamal storms out in anger, Mama and Papa Lyon make a bet based on the results of the Hakeem vs. Freda Royale. If Hakeem wins, Lyon Dynasty will produce Jamal’s next album. If Freda succeeds, Empire gets Hakeem’s next album.
In a midnight meetup, Jamal advises Hakeem to not play Freda’s game, but to play his own. He convinces Hakeem to play to his strength of putting on a show and hyping up the crowd. Hakeem drops a little knowledge for Jamal as well telling his older brother to ignore their parents’ feud and mash the tracks together himself.
Taking Hakeem’s advice, Jamal does just that. The resulting song, “Ready to Go,” lands him the Pepsi deal.
At the rap battle, Jamal and Cookie are in Hakeem’s corner while Lucious stands behind Freda. After trading a round of lyrics, Hakeem taps into Jamal’s advice and begins to play to the crowd. With an old school rap beat at his back, Hakeem wins everyone over, making a very telling statement at the end. Since Lucious obviously sees Freda as the son he never had, Hakeem drops his last name.
And the winner of the battle, as decided by the crowd: “Hakeem -- No Lyon.”
Other moments of note:
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