September 15, 2016


'Empire' Loses Timbaland, Signs Ester Dean & Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins

Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic
Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic

One of the first things that got Empire on people's radars, well before it premiered, was the fact that Timbaland would help its hip-hop sound like actual hip-hop by playing music supervisor. Now his supervisory role has come to an end, with the news dropping less than a week before the Sept. 21 Season 3 premiere.

Shawn Holiday, senior VP of A&R at Columbia Records, which releases Empire's albums, tells Billboard, “We were happy to work with Timbaland during the first two seasons. But we wanted to take a different approach for Season 3." He goes on to tease more "very emotional" musical moments from Taraji P. Henson's Cookie, plus the new characters played by Mariah Carey and Jussie Smollett.

Empire has now signed veteran songwriters Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins (Katy Perry's “Firework," Nicki Minaj's “Super Bass," Lady Gaga's “Telephone," many more smashes you know by heart) and Ester Dean (Rihanna's “Rude Boy," Nicki Minaj's "Pills N Potions," many more songs by those and other superstars; also an actress and solo artist). Billboard adds that the show's also added fellow upper echelon songwriters Johntá Austin, Makeba Riddick, Jesse St. John. Ne-Yo and J.R. Rotem are returning.

Timbaland hasn't commented on leaving Empire yet, although on Thursday morning he posted this, which we're daydreaming about being an allusion to a musical response:

Next, watch the god Missy Elliott talk to Fuse about her career and Timbaland's key part in it: