The cast of “Empire” has dropped a single just a week shy of its Season 3 premiere.
The single, titled “Need Freedom” is performed by the show’s cast, featuring Jussie Smollett. And while the song was intended for character Freda Gatz, a rapper who’s currently in jail, it instead focuses on recent shootings in the U.S.
“I recorded this exactly seven days after Philando Castile was shot,” Smollett told Billboard. “Between the shootings of Castile, Alton Sterling, at the Pulse in Orlando and the police officers in Dallas — not to mention the other numerous killings over the last couple of years — it was like we couldn’t breathe. What are we doing as a people, a nation; what messages are we sending to the next generation. Then this song came.”
So now, they have two versions of the song: “Free Freda” and “Need Freedom.”
The first verse of the song takes a stance against gun violence in favor of love.
“Too many guns on the streets and my heart can’t take it no more
Like Stevie said, love’s in need
My heart cries out for Orlando, Philando, Alton, Sandra, Mike Brown, Garner, Trayvon
Why too many people gone too soon.”
“Empire” follows a former drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul who, after learning he’s diagnosed with ALS, attempts to groom one of his sons to take over Empire Entertainment, pitting them against each other.
The series stars Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray.
Season 3 returns Sept. 21. on FOX.
Listen to the new song above.