At its heart, Empire is a highly dramatic soap opera set to a hip-hop soundtrack. With that, you get a number of insane plotlines (some more ridiculous than others) smashing into each other at high speed. It's amazing that they could rope in an actress like Taraji P. Henson to portray Cookie, a woman who's bound to get her piece of the Empire Records pie by any means necessary. For many, it was the first time they saw Taraji showing the rest of what we've seen in the past, but you'd think that these same critics would've been up on Taraji's performance in Common's “Testify” video, right?
The “Testify” video, which brought to life one of Common's most vivid story-based tracks (which was taken from his 2005 album Be), finds Taraji P. Henson playing the role of the “queen pen,” the woman who got tired of the situation she was in and decided to manipulate her situation to better herself and her family. It's hard to break down the brilliance of the clip without spoiling it (even if it's now 11 years old), but with some subtle references to The Usual Suspects and Common's poetic lyricism, this turned a quick album cut into so much more.
The question is, could Common help accentuate the amazingness that is Cookie by coming onto Empire as a writer? Can he help mold some of these glossy, soap operatic sequences into gold for the hip-hop crowd? Or is that just a recipe for disaster? Either way, Taraji's been putting in work for eons, and quick glimpses at her talents in clips like this “Testify” video prove that in spades.