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The World Is Yours: Will Lucious Lyon replace Tony Montana as the hip hop bootstrapper icon? #Empire #Scarface


The World Is Yours: Will Lucious Lyon replace Tony Montana as the hip hop bootstrapper icon? #Empire #Scarface

Terrence Howard Lucious 2By Tony Lesesne
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

“Empire” is a ratings juggernaut and made history in its first and second seasons in terms of the numbers. Hip hop fans have come out in droves to support “Empire,” as it is the first scripted series to focus in on hip hop music. Plus, the acting is superb, never letting down.

Terrence Howard anchors the ship that is “Empire” with his role of anti-hero protagonist, Lucious Lyon. The life Lucious lives reflects dreams many who grew up in hip hop and under the influence want. Emerging as a rap star, Lucious gained both money and power.

Given the way Lucious handles his business, meaning he owns the music world and he’s a cold-blooded gangster, he’s built a large base of fans. Of course, his fan base is male-driven, as he is a “man’s man” that many draw to. In this modern era, Lucious is becoming a strong figure in pop culture.

Tony Montana

Long before there was a Lucious Lyon, there was Tony Montana, portrayed by Al Pacino in Scarface, a classic film adopted into hip hop culture. Countless songs have been inspired by Al Pacino’s passionate portrayal of a cocaine kingpin who pulled himself out of the gutter. This, not really the drug dealer persona, is what most fans gravitated towards, although lines can get blurred.

Tony Montana is a self-proclaimed political refugee who cut corners to make it out of Cuba. Making it to Miami, he becomes a part of the drug trade, working under Frank Lopez until their differences become too much to overcome. A fateful trip to Bolivia changed everything and Tony Montana ended up taking over the Miami trade, eventually making between $10 million to $15 million a month.

Of course, with Scarface being a movie, Tony Montana’s run had to come to an end. Poetic justice, Tony Montana dies a gruesome death, following his numerous killings, including that of his best friend who helped him build his criminal enterprises. His wrongdoing was marrying Tony’s sister behind his back after he forbade him and his sister for being together.

Few fans pay attention to how it all ended for Tony Montana, for thirty three years, they have been enthralled by how he built it all and how he lived. To this day, rappers are buying tigers and expensive clothing to match the flashiness of Tony Montana. But, Tony Montana was only adopted into the hip hop culture, he wasn’t born into it, despite the embracing of the film.

In 2013, Lee Daniels came up with a concept that led to a partnership with the FOX network. This concept was “Empire,” the story of a man who overcame it all through music and took over the game. Daniels is quick to admit he drew inspiration from Jay Z, Berry Gordy, Diddy, and the aforementioned Tony Montana (portrayed by Pacino). But, hip hop figures such as Damon Dash and Ja Rule also say “Empire” borrows from their life circumstances, too.

Like Montana, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) faced the harsh realities of life at a young age. Dealing with his father being killed by the Nation of Islam, Lucious lived alone with his mentally unstable mother. For most of season two, viewers are led to believe his mother, Leah (then Kelly Rowland), shot herself right in front of him, before learning the gun was empty when Leah (now Leslie Uggams) is actually alive.

Regardless, Lucious was alone and had to raise himself on the tough Philadelphia streets. Growing up alone, Lucious also had a Frank in his life who helped him make his first money in Frank Gathers (Chris Rock). It was Gathers who brought Lucious into the drug game, but music was always his passion, so he had a career on the side, as he rose the ranks in Frank’s organization.

Fast forward to 2015, Lucious Lyon is the head of Empire Enterprises, an entertainment conglomerate that touches the world of sports, music, publishing, acting, and digital streaming. This followed a highly successful music career and Lucious sits firmly as Chairman of the Board. Despite his role in the corporate world, Lucious is still street, as he also killed his own best friend.

When it boils down to it, Lucious Lyon and Tony Montana are the same type of person, men who are willing to do what it takes to enjoy the spoils of life, regardless of the emotional prices. Both men are good, at heart, but get caught up and they have a lot to show for it. The difference is Lucious is smarter than Tony, evidenced by him still being alive, still being rich, and being legit, on top of it all.

The biggest difference of them all is that Lucious Lyon is born into hip hop and made for this culture, while those in the culture find Tony Montana relatable and subsequently adopted him. But, those words said and this synopsis means nothing, being memorable does. So, as “Empire” goes on, will Lucious Lyon eclipse Tony Montana as the fictional character hip hop embraces and makes songs over?

Watch “Boom Boom Boom, Bang Bang Bang Bang” by Lucious Lyon below:

Follow Tony Lesesne on Twitter @TonyCLesesne.

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