Timbaland Exits ‘Empire,’ So What Does That Mean For The Fox Show’s Music?

As Empire heads into Season 3, it will be missing a key behind-the-scenes member of the show’s success from the past two years: Powerhouse music producer Timbaland. Billboard broke the news this week that Timbaland has exited Empire. He will be replaced by Grammy-award-winning songwriter/produce Rodney Jerkins (aka “Darkchild”). Songwriter Ester Dean will also contribute music to the series.

Timbaland Taraji P. Henson
Timbaland Taraji P. Henson

Whoa, huge move here. Timbaland has been with Empire since the beginning and has had a big role in shaping the sound of the Lyon family. But it sounds like the show wanted to take a different direction.

“…We wanted to take a different approach for season 3,” says Shawn Holiday, senior VP of A&R for Columbia Records, which releases Empire’s music. “We dealt a lot with family drama in the first season through songs like ‘Good Enough’ when Lucious Lyon threw his son Jamal in the trash can. That was a very emotional music moment. So we’re going for the same success with upcoming songs like ‘Mama,’ about Cookie being the backbone of the family, and a duet with Mariah Carey and Jussie Smollett.”

From the early to mid-2000s, Timbaland found huge mainstream hip-hop and R&B success producing (and making records with) artists like Aaliyah, Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake, and more. But it sounds like Timbaland’s trademark beats are no longer working for the Fox drama, which has launched unforgettable songs like “Drip Drop” and “Good Enough.”

So get ready for a new sound from Empire. But don’t fret — Darkchild has more than enough experience for his new gig. He’s made hits with Ashanti, Brandy, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, and more. We can thank him for classics like “The Boy is Mine” (Brandy and Monica), “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK” (Whitney Houston), “He Wasn’t Man Enough” (Toni Braxton), and more.