TV Club: Empire: “The Outspoken King”

“The Outspoken King” almost seems as if it was written with the specific goal of setting fire to the goodwill Empire built in its pilot. There’s plenty of lively music in it, but it’s difficult to hear it over the percussive rhythm of shoes dropping. If the pilot was the case for Empire, “The Outspoken King” is the case against it.

Empire sounded potentially disastrous from its earliest stages of development because the world of hip hop is an especially elusive target for a fictional television show, particularly one constrained by the rhythms and tropes of a nighttime soap. Hip hop values authenticity above all things, as Iggy Azalea would gladly attest. Hell, Kendrick Lamar would attest to that amid a low-level Twitter backlash over recent comments he made about the Ferguson protests, proof that when it comes to authenticity in the hip hop sphere, there’s literally …

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