I didn't think Empire Season 2 could possibly top a guest appearance by Pitbull himself, but it isn't stopping with Mr. Worldwide. The hit FOX series has has plenty of other big names to bring into the fold — like Mariah Carey, who will appear this season. But first things first: Ne-Yo guest stars on Empire this Wednesday night, though that's not the only way he's contributing to Season 2. According to Billboard, the R&B star has been one of the main songwriters working on Jamal Lyon's sound with Jussie Smollett.
It's pretty much the perfect match: Jamal and Ne-Yo (aka Shaffer Smith) are both passionate singers and songwriters who always give their all to their music. According to Billboard, Ne-Yo co-wrote the song "No Doubt About It" (with Pitbull) and "Ain't About The Money." In a behind-the-scenes video, Ne-Yo and Smollett talk about making the song "Battle Cry" together. "'Battle Cry,' to date, was the most difficult song to cut," Ne-Yo said in the video. "We don't have a lot of time to produce something incredible. It really keeps you on your toes. We definitely reached some new heights." Sounds like the R&B singers have been making beautiful music together.
Ne-Yo is definitely the best choice to bring Jamal Lyon to life, and here are some of his songs that prove it.
"Because Of You"
This romantic slow jam from 2007 went Platinum for Ne-Yo and shows his sweet side. It's a quality that's definitely needed when writing for Jamal, who is mostly portrayed as being a singer with soul and a true artist — he's even naming his album The Artist, as he said in last week's episode.
A huge hit song from 2008 that is still played on the radio to this day, "Closer" is so many things. A dance record and a pop song with his R&B influence. Ne-Yo bridges dance, pop, and R&B nicely, proving he's a superstar — and it's a skill he could bring to Jamal's character.
This 2012 hit is a personal favorite, because Ne-Yo shows he has the vocals to hold his own against Calvin Harris' pulsing beats — and that's not an easy feat. Again, if Jamal is going to become a superstar in the Empire universe, he's going to have to tackle many genres, including EDM. Ne-Yo has that experience to bring to Jamal's sound.
"Give Me Everything"
Ne-Yo knows how to write a chart-topper with Pitbull, so if Empire is going to give Jamal a song with Mr. Worldwide, it may as well be written by someone who knows exactly what he's doing.
"Money Can't Buy"
Jamal frequently sings about money and power on Empire and Ne-Yo released this song last year, showing he's got experience singing about dollar bills too.
"Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)"
Ne-Yo and Sia worked together on his 2012 hit track and it's a song that the R&B crooner loves dearly, according to an interview with MTV News. "The song is about the importance of loving yourself, which I felt was something that’s few and far between these days," he said. "Everybody’s searching for this unreal perfection, and it’s kind of sad, so I feel like the song came along absolutely at the right time."
That feeling of having such a strong emotional connection to a song is the essence of Jamal's character, and Ne-Yo knows exactly how to bring it out on Empire.
Image: Chuck Hodes/FOX