Bryshere Gray, also known as rapper Yazz the Greatest, and also known for his role as Hakeem Lyon on the hit show “Empire” on Fox, joined us recently to discuss his success as an up-and-coming 21-year-old.
Yazz will be performing at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 17. But all this success didn’t happen overnight – Yazz was rapping in Philadelphia (yes, like Will Smith) before he was discovered.
“It was a dramatic transition, from performing on the street and you know battles, and stuff like that, and now I’m like, worldwide, known,” he said. “You know, it’s different, I could go somewhere and go to a venue and people will sing my songs word for word. Even my old songs from back in the day. They sing my songs word for word. So it’s great that they’re appreciating the talent that I have and not just putting it under the bus.”
When asked to compare his actual career to the career he has on “Empire,” he mentions he simply loves what he does.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I love making music, I love rapping, I love writing, so ‘Empire’ is a great place to come.”
Yazz collaborates on the songs that appear on “Empire,” but mentions he wrote all the music for the show’s very first episode.
On the playlist from the show he stars on?
“I love ‘Drip Drop,’ I love ‘No Apologies,’” he said. “’Conqueror’ is also real good.”
Yazz decided not to offer any spoilers for the next season of “Empire,” which is rumored to have guest stars from the likes of Zac Efron to Oprah Winfrey. On the show, Yazz dates none other than supermodel Naomi Campbell, who plays the role of Camilla Marks.
“I did not know Naomi Campbell before ‘Empire,’” Yazz says. He owes the introduction to Lee Daniels. “Thank you, Lee Daniels.”
On Campbell, Yazz added, “No, but she’s amazing, she’s a great person to work with. Been in the game long as I’ve been alive, and it’s amazing to work with such a beautiful supermodel, and get paid for it” he gushes.
On Sunday, at the Billboard Movie Awards (which will air at 8 p.m. on ABC) Yazz will perform with his “Empire” co-star Jussie Smollett, who also plays the role of his artist brother, Jamal Lyon, on the show.
“I love that fool. That’s my brother, you know, we hang out, we form a brother chemistry, in a short time. That’s like my true brother,” he said. “We’re true brothers, so of course you have some ups and downs, if it’s genuine.”
The new season of “Empire” is slated for release in the fall, and has been bumped from 12 episodes to 18 episodes.
When discussing what fans could expect for the next season, he mentioned that there would be “more music, more episodes for you guys to enjoy and watch on the planes, and while you’re driving to your destinations. A lot of great producers are coming aboard, actors; I’m just excited to start the second season. It’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be intense.”