While this season of Empire has already given us a dizzying array of celebrity appearances, tonight’s episode delivered a cameo we’re dying to see converted into a series regular — Ne-Yo.
Because, Ne-Yo. I mean, right? The Grammy winner needs little in the way of an introduction, given he’s one of the hottest names in the music industry. Playing himself tonight, he counsels Jamal in matters of music and the heart, ultimately deciding to head out on tour with him. If that isn’t an open-ended story line, we don’t know what is. Sure, IMDb only lists Ne-Yo as appearing on this one episode — but that’s not to say he won’t pop back up when Jamal actually hits the road to head out on tour.
Think about it. Not only does it have to happen at some point (these guys can’t survive on album sales and Empire merch alone), the likelihood of Lucious actually taking that roadtrip with his middle son seems slim to none. Jamal will have to have someone dynamic and pertinent to the industry to share scenes with while he’s on tour — and Ne-Yo has our vote.
For the record, we’d also be cool if this week’s other cameo, Adam Rodriguez, wound up with an extended arc on Fox’s hit series. But since it seems unlikely the TV gods — or, at the very least, Lee Daniels and Danny Strong — will gift us with both Rodriguez and Ne-Yo, we’re carving out a few minutes to campaign for the latter. Here’s why he and Empire are a match made in music heaven.
1. He’s already working behind the scenes
This may be the first time we are seeing Ne-Yo in front of the camera, but it doesn’t mean his presence hasn’t already been felt on the show — he is a songwriter/producer for the series, in which capacity he has collaborated with Jamal and other artists. He even created some songs for Tiana that’ll air soon. Ne-Yo is already part of the Empire; we just didn’t realize it.
2. Look at him
Is this superficial? Completely irrelevant? Somewhat silly? Sure. Hate away, though, haters, because we’re not ashamed to admit we like seeing Ne-Yo flash that million-watt smile of his onscreen. Would we be mad if we had to stare at him for an hour every week? Absolutely not.
3. His character is a good foil to Lucious
In the fictional hip-hop world Lucious Lyon inhabits, he is the uncontested king. As fans of the show know, though, he’s kind of a total and utter jerk
all the time sometimes. So it was a refreshing and welcome change of pace to see Ne-Yo come in and have the courage to disagree with Lucious — in front of Jamal, no less.
4. The music, obviously
We’ve already covered the killer songs Ne-Yo has been busy penning for Jamal and Empire’s other artists. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the slew of top-notch tracks he’s cut himself, such as “So Sick,” “Miss Independent,” “Mad,” “One in a Million,” “Because of You,” “Beautiful Monster”… we could be here all night. And let’s not forget the songs he has written or cowritten for artists like Fabolous, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, Monica, Cheryl Cole, Sia and Willow Smith.
5. He’s a natural entertainer
Although normally we find it categorically unfair when one person has above-average talent at — oh, you know — everything, we forgive Ne-Yo because we love him so damn much. So, yeah, in addition to being a phenomenal singer, producer and songwriter, he’s also a mesmerizing actor. If tonight didn’t convince you, please do go check him out in Stomp the Yard, Battle: Los Angeles or Red Tails.
6. Jamal needs someone neutral in his corner
Listening to Ne-Yo give Jamal relationship advice — including the invaluable wisdom, “Don’t take relationship advice from Lucious Lyon” — made us wish he was a personal life coach. And by personal, we clearly mean ours. We’ll have to make do with living vicariously through Jamal, who desperately needs a clear voice to cut through the family feuds, boyfriend drama and the heady screams of a zillion fanboys and girls (which would include us, naturally).