In my Episode 6 recap I wrote that Lucious views raw rapper Freda Gatz as the son he wishes he had. Apparently she has let their mentor-mentee relationship go to her head.
The show starts will an oblivious Freda dissing Hakeem in a battle rap called “Daddy’s Little Girl” as she’s Lucious’ son and Hakeem is just daddy’s little girl. (How is it that this chick STILL doesn’t know that Lucious killed her father???)
The song is so foul that even members of Empire (Becky, Andre, and Jamal) are distancing themselves from it. Lucious on the other hand is beaming. He’s determined that if Hakeem won’t willingly come to his side, then he will force him to do so through humiliation.
Hakeem is making the moves on Laura when he gets the news. He is hot.
Back at Empire, Pepsi is reaching out to Jamal. He and ten other artists have been picked to compete to be the company’s musical spokesperson. Jamal has a great shot at getting the honor, but he must first create and present a song in week. Before he can even make plans with Cookie, Lucious declares that he will produce the song from start to finish. Jamal is visibly worried.
Lucious is worried too … about the Swiftstream deal. Last episode he closed a partnership deal its owner Jago Locke thanks to Mimi. (She turned up his meds making Jago more susceptible to their manipulation.) This episode Jago has wised up and doubled the investment price.
Mimi is forcefully pushing Lucious into paying Jago’s higher investment fee. Remember she’s on some kind of secret timeline with her mystery co-conspirator. (Who is it? Jago? Anika? Or, is it an older rival like Camilla Marks?)
Lucious is so concerned about winning that he doesn’t see what Mimi is doing. Andre tries tell his father that there is more to life and business than just winning, but Lucious doesn’t want to hear it. He decides to employ his crooked lawyer Thirsty Rawlings to blackmail Jaygo.
Jamal is working with Cookie on the song for Pepsi. It sounds good already but he’s worried that Lucious will change it as soon as they get in the studio. He’s also got Cookie to worry about; her head is swollen after their last collaboration got musical kingmaker Huie Jarvis’ attention. Now she wants to throw her producing credit in her ex-husband’s face. Jamal knows Cookie’s ego could cause more trouble for him.
Hakeem is all about starting trouble. He jumps on Periscope to announce his plans to battle Freda Gatz. Cookie and Laz are livid. They both see a Freda-versus-Hakeem rap battle as a promotion nightmare, but it’s mostly Laz who is worried.
Remember he’s trying to get his cut for the long horn gang and he’s manipulating Cookie to take his side in the matter. Hakeem can’t be fooled.
He reminders his mother that a. Laz is not a partner and should not be involved in business decisions and b. this rap battle is crucial to their business’ success.
This is more than a fight for a last name; this is about his reputation as a number 4 artist the Billboard charts and he’s not about to let a newcomer take that away from him. Hakeem has to clap back on Freda.
Cookie finally comes to her senses after Laz shoves Hakeem. She takes Hakeem’s side and puts Mr. Delgado in his place with a slap across the face. (Ooo! She told you.)
Speaking of last names, there may be a new Lyon coming soon. We see a crazy looking Anika in the bathroom with a knife and –OMG—a pregnancy test. It seems that Hakeem may have impregnated her when he ran to her after the kidnapping.
Oh, Hakeem. For every step forward, he seems to take a step back.
Cookie and Jamal are working together on the Pepsi song when Lucious shows up. Last week Jamal was hiding from Hakeem in the Lyon Dynasty studio. Now Cookie’s hiding in the Jamal’s spare bedroom eavesdropping on Lucious’ new beat. It is a world beat with a electronic sound — perfect for the club. Cookie hates it. It’s the complete opposite of the chill, sexy sound she created with Jamal earlier. Still she keeps her cool and stays hidden. Cookie slips out when Lucious and Jamal head to the studio.
Anika and Rhonda run into each other. Rhonda goes on and on about her “pregnancy” without realizing that Anika might be pregnant as well. However the chat offers Lucious’ ex-fiancée some hope: In the past Lucious never accepted Andre’s white wife, but it seems that he is friendlier with Rhonda now that she may be carrying his grandson.
Anika’s has been on her own since the failed hostile takeover in Episode 1. Lucious definitely wants nothing to do with her after she tried to steal Empire artists last season, and Cookie’s never forgiven her for trying to take her place while she was in prison.
Could this pregnancy bring Anika back into good graces too?
Back at the Lyon Dynasty headquarters, Hakeem catches Cookie working with Jamal. He’s hurt. He’s father is provoking his artists to attack him and now his mother is pay special attention to Jamal instead of him.
Cookie sits him down and lets Hakeem know that this is not a war; they are all family. Cookie also lets it slip that she hopes Jamal will jump ship and join Lyon Dynasty. Hakeem is calm now and ready to get to work on his battle with Freda.
Thirsty has the dirt on Jago but the Swiftstream president airs out his dirty laundry so there is now way to blackmail him.
Andre tries again to discourage his father from jumping into business with Swift Stream but Lucious is being stubborn. So Andre suggests that they urge Mimi put some skin in the game. Lucious agrees with the compromise, but will Mimi?
The day of the deal Lucious, Andre and Thirsty are sitting with Jago’s people waiting for Mimi. Will she show? Just when Lucious starts to rethink his decision, Mimi arrives, forks over the cash and they all sign the deal. Now Empire and Swiftstream are in business together.
Is this the end of Empire?
Anika shows up at Hakeem’s apartment. There is hope that she can still have a place in the Lyon family, but not as a side piece. She has to become Hakeem’s main squeeze.
She listens to Hakeem’s feelings about Lucious and the rap battle with Freda. Then she tries make the moves on him. But then Hakeem drops a four-letter word. LOVE.
He’s in love with Laura. She brought him back to life after the kidnapping in Episode 6, She kissed him after he helped her gain the confidence she needed to be Mirage à Trois lead vocalist in Episode 7 and then this episode she shared a secret with him — she’s a virgin.
The promiscuous Hakeem is smitten and Anika is stuck in the friend zone, destined to be nothing more that “homies.”
Poor Anika. Now she has find another way to get Hakeem’s attention
Jamal is stuck between two songs – the one his father made for him and the one his mother created. He decides to go his own way and merge to the two together. Lucious seems to be cool with it until gets into the studio and sees Cookie there. Even the musicians are afraid. (LOL)
Neither parent wants to collaborate. So they push Jamal to pick one song over the other.
Jamal is disappointed. He thought his parents would unite over him as their son. Discouraged, he gets the answers he needs in a hangout sess with his brother. Hakeem gives Jamal the support he needs to continue merging the two songs together. In turn, Jamal advises Hakeem on how to win the face off with Freda: don’t try to battle with Freda. Instead Hakeem should just keep doing what he does best, performing to the crowd.
Each brother leaves the hangout rejuvenated. At the live Pepsi performance, Jamal ignores his parents bickering and sings his heart out. In the end, he impresses both of his parents and wins Pepsi over.
Hakeem is ready for his rumble in the jungle. Freda reverts to her usual jabs in the first round: Hakeem comes from money and is relying on his father last name and his mom’s reputation on the streets. She’s from the streets and is a self-made rapper.
Gatz’s raw grit has everyone fired up, but Hakeem’s style shines through in round two.
Hakeem lets her know: he’s on top and fans are screaming his name, not hers. Meanwhile she’s still struggling to get where he is.
Then he takes the battle to the real enemy, his father. He raps “bullets to the name Lyon” the he drops a bomb. Lucious and his pet project can keep the Lyon last name. From now on he’s trading on his own success, his own name. No more Hakeem Lyon, from now on it’s just Hakeem.
The crowd goes crazy and pronounces Hakeem the winner the rap battle.
Lucious tries to keep a poker face but Hakeem’s rejection truly hurts.
He adopted the name Lyon when he was at his lowest. In his mind, Lucious probably thought that with such a powerful last name he would forge a powerful, impenetrable family legacy so completely different from the broken home he truly hails from that it would erase the past. Now that legacy is being torn apart and the old issues of mental illness and family separation are rearing their ugly heads.
Hakeem’s battle seems to be over. But then he absent-mindedly puts his precious Laura in the back seat of sedan driven by Anika in disguise. (Why oh why wouldn’t he check the driver out after all he’s been through?)
Buckle up. We’re in for a wild ride next episode.