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Last night, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Gray (aka Yazz) of Empire captivated the crowd at Stage 48 during the show’s soundtrack release party sponsored by Hennessy in New York City.

Yazz, who plays Hakeem, started the party off with his song “Drip Drop,” as party-goers lifted their Hennessy V.S drinks in the air to sing and dance alongside the stars. After Yazz did his thing, Jussie Smollett (Jamal) rocked it by performing his hits from the show, including “Keep Your Money.”

Before their performances, both actors sat down for an exclusive interview to discuss the release of the Empire soundtrack, the program’s success, and the now infamous N-word debate.

Jussie is thrilled over their success, telling us, “It feels incredible. It’s a blessing and to be here in this moment, on this day, at this time, is amazing.”

Yazz was also grateful for his opportunity to reach the youth: “FOX has given us a great platform to talk to the kids and inspire people.” He continued, “We’re honored to be involved.”

But one of the very best things about Empire are the hit songs and soundtrack, which features production from the legendary Timbaland. Yazz told us he and Jussie are just two more artists in the line of icons Timb’s beats have touched.

“We are working with the best of the best – a mega producer who worked with iconic people like Michael Jackson and Pharrell, now he’s working with Yazz and Jussie.”

As for Jussie, he’s been a fan of Timb since he was working under Jodeci’s Devante Swing. “To be a part of the same family as Missy, Magoo, Ginuwine and Aaliyah, as well as all of the greats leading up to the Timberlakes, is fantastic.”

Empire is quickly coming up on its season finale, but Jussie says the last episode will give you life and prepare you for season two.

“So much further. Y’all are not ready. Watch the season finale. I feel like once people see the season finale, they’ll understand where the characters are going to go for the second season, because it’s really not where you thought they would go.” He continued, “For that reason and that reason alone they have to watch the season finale, because you will literally get your entire existence of life.”

Earlier this week, stars Terrence Howard and Taraji had differing opinions on using the N-word to make the show feel more real. Jussie chimed in:

“The N-word is not going to be used on network television. So I don’t have a point of view about it either way. But Terrence is brilliant and we use it in real life.”

The Empire soundtrack is in stores now; the season finale will air tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX.


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