The long-awaited return of the hit Fox hip-hop music show Empire is set for next week March 30, and alongside the new plot twists viewers are anticipating a fresh batch of new songs from the stars of the show and their guest collaborators. If what we have heard on the show in the first half is to be trusted, then we are in for a great deal of masterfully produced and catchy tracks for the remainder of the second season. But let’s take a look at what makes the first volume of the season two soundtrack so amazing.

‘Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 2, Vol. 1’ Album Review

With big names like Timbaland, Ne-Yo, J.R. Rotem and Swizz Beatz as music producers on the show, the Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 2, Vol. 1, released back in November before the show took its mid-season hiatus, presents us with an eclectic mix of songs, showing different sides and nuances of hip-hop, rap, R&B and soul music.

While the soundtrack for the first season largely explored the musical abilities of the cast’s starts, specifically the rivaling brothers Hakeem and Jamal Lyon played by Yazz and Jussie Smollett respectively, on the second season we see them pair up with guest stars and collaborators as they keep competing for influence in the music business. Producer Timbaland makes an appearance alongside Yazz on the catchy “Bout 2 Blow,” while Smollett shines on the dance-pop collaboration with Pitbull titled “No Doubt About It.” The singers portraying the two brothers also pull off another one of their collaborations with “No Doubt About It.”

The second season has Terrence Howard exploring his rapping abilities with somewhat mediocre success on two tracks: “Snitch B–ch” with Petey Pablo and “Boom Boom Boom Boom” with Bre-Z. The latter is without a doubt one of the catchiest songs, which reminds viewers and listeners alike of the show’s producer Timbaland’s talent and ability to remain musically relevant. Howard’s vocals on the track bring in a layer of old-school rap, vaguely reminiscent of DMX, while Bre-Z, the fresh new talent in the show’s second season spits line after line with impeccable precision.

The album’s standard edition contains 11 songs, which may be a little too little to do the soundtrack justice. There are some hidden gems and tracks from the most memorable moments on the season so far among the remaining 8 additional songs on the deluxe version, adding up to a total of 19. Among those is the tender and soulful Jussie Smollett & Alicia Keys duo “Powerful” as well as several other catchy and touching Smollett songs.

Even if you’re not a fan of the show, the soundtracks has plenty to offer. It is less cohesive than a regular album, but this is understandable considering the varied musical nature of the show’s stars and collaborators. The songs on the second season of Empire are largely concerned with power and struggle as the plot unfolds to reveal who will dominate the music empire.

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