BLACK VOICES

9 Performances By 'Empire' Stars Before They Were TV Royalty

You have to hear Jussie Smollett cover "Heartless."

Songs like “Drip Drop” and “You’re So Beautiful” became big hits during "Empire's" first season, and with the show returning this week, fans are anticipating many more jams. 

Rapper and music producer Timbaland is behind the show's soundtrack, and the stars' raw talent really brings the original score to life. 

So where were these cast members before they made it to "Empire?" We've done some digging to bring you old clips of Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, V. Bozeman and more singing and rapping before "Empire" catapulted them to fame.

Enjoy! 

  • 1 Bryshere Y. Gray (Yazz The Greatest) -- "Homework"
    During his teen years, Bryshere Y. Gray, who plays Hakeem Lyon, released a string of tracks including "Homework," which was featured on his mixtape, "Going For The Crown."
  • 2 Bryshere Y. Gray (Yazz The Greatest) -- "Love My Team"
    Yazz borrowed Drake's single "Up All Night" for his 2011 track, "Love My Team."
  • 3 V. Bozeman (with Timothy Bloom) -- "''Til The End Of Time"
    V. Bozeman was featured on Timothy Bloom's 2011 single, "'Til The End Of Time." 
  • 4 V. Bozeman -- "The Vistor"
    Bozeman tapped into her sensual side for a 2012 video trailer titled, “The Visitor.” According to the clip’s description: “A Visitor is forever evolving, always moving constantly to experience and attain supernatural highs that only God and the Universe can give.”
  • 5 V. Bozeman -- Jam Session
    In this 2011 clip, Bozeman shares her creative process and musical influences, followed by a soulful jam session with her band, New Genesis.
  • 6 Jussie Smollett -- "Heartless (Kanye West Cover)"
    Sans the "808s" and "heartbreaks," Jussie Smollett's impromptu rendition of Kanye West's "Heartless" is amazing.
  • 7 Jussie Smollett -- "Fatigue"
    Smollett showcased his vocal range while performing a song titled "Fatigue" in 2010.
  • 8 Serayah -- "Stay (Rihanna Cover)"
    Serayah, who plays Tiana Brown on "Empire," performed Rihanna's "Stay" at New York hot spot Village Underground in 2013.
  • 9 Taraji P. Henson (with Three 6 Mafia) -- "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp"
    Before reuniting with Terrence Howard for "Empire," Taraji P. Henson showcased her vocal skills in 2005's "Hustle & Flow." In addition to the film winning Best Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" at the 78th annual Academy Awards, Henson performed the track with Three 6 Mafia during the 2006 ceremony.

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