Hakeem, as per usual, has no ambition. The little boy wants to be famous, but doesn’t want to put the work in, and it’s infuriating his father.
Cookie gives Hakeem some great advice, even though he won’t listen to her—his best music comes from a real place, he shouldn’t rap about the streets because he hasn’t lived the life.
Tianna goes to Cookie for advice. She has a new track that needs a final touch, and she’s impressed by the song Cookie gave to Jamal. Tianna may be Cookie’s shot at really imposing on Lucious’ territory.
Lucious finally tells Annika that he has ALS and only three years left of life, at best. Based on her reaction, she plans on standing by him.
Titan, a popular hip-hop artist, lands in hot water (aka a jail cell) when he’s involved in a brawl at one of his shows and shoots someone. Titan has gang connections, and his victim was a rival.
Sure enough, Cookie takes over Tianna’s management. Annika is livid, but she has other things to deal with. There’s a gap in Empire’s lineup without Fool Fool, so they need to find a replacement. Lucious wants Titan.
One member of Lucious’ team is advising him not to poach Titan from Baretti, owner of a rival label, especially with the public stock announcement coming up. Lucious’ right-hand man, however, thinks Titan’s signing would be a great PR move. Annika wants to go in personally about signing Titan, but the men of Empire are convinced she’s too delicate to handle it alone. Lucious decides to go with her.
The Teen Choice Awards want to shoot the nomination concert at Leviticus; Tianna is all for it, while Hakeem doesn’t want to “dumb his music down for tweens.”
Cookie goes to visit Titan’s mother, an Islamic woman who raised her son in the same faith. However, he decided to leave it. The man that Titan shot burned down a community center that Titan had a personal connection to. Cookie promises that Lucious’ lawyers want to exonerate her son.
The detective returns to question Lucious about the night of Bunky’s murder. Of course, he claims he was home when it happened. Andre has a flashback to when he was a little boy and the police came to search their house. Without his father even asking him to, Andre hid Lucious’ gun inside his toy box, preventing his arrest. So, Andre tells the detective that he was at home with Lucious when Bunky died.
Lucious and Annika go to meet with one of Titan’s people about signing him. The contact reveals that Titan shot someone with high status in the rival gang, so things are more serious than anyone knew. During their meeting, they’re almost victims to a drive-by shooting, obviously connected to Titan’s actions.
Cookie tells Lucious about her meeting with Titan’s mother, and it’s revealed that Lucious has painful ties to the Nation of Islam. They killed his father.
Jamal refuses payment from Lucious for performing with Hakeem at Leviticus; he didn’t create the song himself, so he doesn’t want the money. He’s living in Bushwick with Michael now, miles from the type of lavish lifestyle he’s used to, but he was serious about cutting himself off.
Hakeem is “bonding” with Camilla instead of keeping his obligation to a dinner with Cookie and Tianna. Eventually, Tianna walks in on the two of them, and Camilla isn’t too pleased with Hakeem giving her a key to his place.
Baretti shows up to Lucious at Leviticus, and it’s revealed that they have history. Baretti credited himself with the songs Lucious wrote and produced on his own first album. He warns Lucious not to go public, or else he’ll destroy Empire and change the name of Leviticus—to Cookies.
What on EARTH is going on here?!
Hakeem visits Jamal the night of the Leviticus TCA performance, and they have a lighthearted conversation that ends up giving Jamal just the inspiration he needs. He hasn’t been able to write in his noisy new apartment, but after Hakeem leaves, he goes for a walk and realizes that the noise in Brooklyn is actually perfect material for a song.
At Leviticus, Tianna warns Hakeem that she doesn’t give a damn what he does with Camilla, he just needs to nail the performance and not embarrass her. I have to say, I’m really feelin’ the song they perform together!
Lucious goes to the prison to see Titan, and warns him that Baretti is going to betray him. Lucious promises a signing bonus that will allow him to rebuild the community center. Titan agrees.
Hakeem admits that Cookie was right about her advice, but he still doesn’t forgive her for being gone for 17 years of his life.
Lucious and Cookie actually bond over Hakeem and Tianna’s success, and Empire making headlines in the newspaper.
“You know somethin’? You and I always made a real good team,” he says. “You damn right we did. I make you better. Don’t forget that,” she replies.
I have to say, Cookie and Lucious are crazy as hell, but I agree with her. I’m secretly hoping Cookie edges Annika out of the way. Despite his faults, Lucious’ good side comes out with Cookie and I need to see more of it.
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