In the role of: Cookie Lyon’s protégée
More than any current mainstream hip-hop star, Nicki Minaj has the over-the-top style to match Empire‘s over-the-top storylines. She’s created enough of her own outsize characters to prove that she can fill just about any niche, but there’s something so right about the idea of Nicki and Cookie working together.
Photo credit: Zak Krevitt
In the role of: Jamal Lyon’s new rapper boyfriend
Am I the only one who’s underwhelmed by Ryan? I’d love to see Jamal dating — and collaborating with — another musician, and Empire could stand to have a character who raps and hooks up with dudes. Think about how great Le1f’s contributions to the Empire Season 2 soundtrack would be!
In the role of: Hakeem Lyon’s new girlfriend
She’s on Jussie Smollett’s short list of dream Empire guest stars, and the woman known as Miss Jackson (if you’re nasty) would make the perfect paramour for the little Lyon who prefers older women.
Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea
In the role of: themselves, basically
One issue Empire hasn’t quite taken on yet (although the show did hint at it in last night’s cringe-worthy white-rapper-grandson scene) is appropriation. And as unlikely as it seems that Iggy Azalea would be self-aware enough to face up to the accusations on national TV, if she did, it would certainly earn her some points for acknowledging critics in any way other than throwing a Twitter tantrum. I can imagine Iggy signed to Creedmore while her loudest detractor, Azealia Banks, is part of the Empire roster — or the labels could be reversed, with Azealia sticking around to seduce Hakeem’s ex Tiana in an act of espionage.
In the role of: Cookie’s next comeback project
Cookie Lyon is nothing if not a ’90s woman — in large part because she has been in prison since the ’90s. It was brilliant of Empire‘s writers to pair Taraji P. Henson with Courtney Love, playing a character whose history (if not musical style) is very similar to the Love’s own. Next year, it would be excellent to see Cookie breathe new life into Salt-N-Pepa… I mean, a differently named group that looks and sounds exactly like Salt-N-Pepa. If anyone has the power to make them release their first album since 1997, it’s Cookie.
In the role of: Lucious Lyon’s Zen Buddhist teacher
If you were listening carefully last night, then you might have picked up on a very familiar-sounding entry in Lucious Lyon’s discography: Songs of Love and Hate. It’s irresistible to imagine that as a tribute to (or even a full-length cover of) the 1971 Leonard Cohen album of the same name. Hey, Lucious has lived a long and complicated life. Who’s to say he didn’t once wind up at a mountaintop Zen retreat sometime in the ’90s, learning to meditate alongside one L. Cohen?