Empire has quickly become a breakout hit, and for good reason. The acting is top-notch and the music is on point. In fact, many of the actors who appear on Empire, including two of the three Lyon sons, are also musicians. Bryshere Gray (Hakeem) has been rapping since he was a teenager in West Philadelphia, under the stage name Yazz the Greatest. He was even chosen to play at Jay Z's Made in America festival and Philly's own Powerhouse concert, and he's opened for the rappers Fabolous and 2 Chainz on tour. (In a cool coincidence, Fabolous will be making his small screen debut on Empire later this season.) Yeah, the kid was definitely going places, even before Empire scooped him up. On the show, music executive producer Timbaland writes all of Hakeem's lyrics. But Gray's own work is 100 percent original. Let's look at Yazz the Greatest's past performances, so you can see for yourself what makes him a star.
Unlike his character Hakeem, whose fast-paced raps often reference Lucious, Empire Entertainment, and his extravagant lifestyle, Yazz's own songs aren't quite so obsessed with money and fame — though he definitely shares Hakeem's swag and bravado. We don't know exactly when you'll be able to catch Yazz's next live performance, but he did tell AllHipHop that his first album drops in the middle of 2015, so he'll probably go on tour around that time. As for whether the whole cast will tour at some point, the actor would only tease: "Yeah, we have a little surprise for you. That’s going to come out very soon."
Check out Hakeem's best Empire song so far, then we'll see how it compares to Yazz the Greatest's own music.
What else do you need to know about Yazz's unique performance style?
We haven't seen Hakeem bust a move on Empire, but Yazz is certainly no stranger to a little choreography. He's the rare rapper who also dances, which is an impressive feat when you think about how fast he's simultaneously spitting his lyrics. I'd love for Tiana to give the youngest Lyon a dance lesson sometime this season.
He's Got Style
He Collaborates With Other Artists
Hakeem is most successful when he's working alongside his older brother Jamal. Together, they blew the roof off Leviticus. Yazz the Greatest is more of a one-man show, but that doesn't mean he can't bring a fellow artist along for the ride when their combined voices sound better than either one of them alone. In this video, you see Yazz bring female rap artist Asia onstage to help him out with a chorus.
Catch Yazz's next performance on Empire on Jan. 28 at 9 p.m.
Image: Chuck Hodes/FOX