Record producer Timbaland has been replaced by Rodney Jenkins and Ester Dean to lead the songwriting team of Empire season 3. In addition, Romeo Miller, also known as Lil Romeo, has joined the series' cast as Gram, the rapper who was supposed to be played by Kid Cudi.
Timbaland has managed the show's songwriting team ever since it premiered in January last year. Although Columbia Records, which handles Empire's music, appreciates the songwriter and producer's work on the program, that company stated that the series' showrunners wanted to go in a different direction for the 3rd season, according to Billboard.
This is the main reason why Jenkins, also known as the Grammy Award-winning producer Darkchild, and singer and actress Dean were brought in to handle the music for the show's upcoming episodes.
"We were happy to work with Timbaland during the first two seasons," Shawn Holiday of Columbia Records said in a statement to Billboard. "But we wanted to take a different approach for season 3."
"We dealt with 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," Holiday added. "That was a very emotional music moment."
Aside from the change in the musical direction, the upcoming season of Empire will also feature new characters. One of these is Gram, who will serve as the rival of rapper Hakeem Lyon. Originally, the character of Gram was supposed to be played by Kid Cudi.
After the "Pursuit of Happiness" rapper decided to leave the show due to "creative differences," he was replaced with Miller, the son of rap legend Master P, Entertainment Weekly reported.
— Romeo Miller (@RomeoMiller) September 1, 2016
Aside from Miller, the other new additions to the cast include, French Montana, Birdman and Biz Markie. Mariah Carey will also appear on the show and will do a duet with Taraji P. Henson's Cookie Lyon.
The latest season of Empire will premiere on Sept. 21.