‘Power’ Trip: 50 Cent And Courtney Kemp Agboh Talk ‘Empire’ Comparisons And Kanon’s Season 2 Plans
To some Power addicts, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s character, Kanon, pretty much ain’t sh-t. Season One of the STARZ hit show left fans frantically Google-mapping the nearest park bench, church pew or stoop just to have several seats in order to gather themselves. As Ghost (played by Omari Hardwick) tried—and sometimes failed—to keep his blossoming club Truth alive, and his affair with Angela (Lela Loren) away from his wife, Tasha (Naturi Naughton), his sidekick Tommy (Joseph Sikora) constantly and unwillingly pulled him back into the streets, all while Kanon devised a master plan from behind bars to destroy their entire operation.
VIBE recently chopped it up with Fif and showrunner/ creator, Courtney Kemp Agboh, about the inner workings of Power’s most devious puppet master, what to expect in Season Two and that spat with that other show.
VIBE: In Season One of Power, everyone’s roles are in a gray area. There’s good and bad aspects to each character. For season two, is there still grayness? Or are lines finally drawn?
Courtney Kemp Agboh: What I would say is the really big villain of the season gets let out of the cage at the end of season one. First season, the villain is masked, you don’t know the villain, pink sneakers represents the villain, but you still don’t know until we let him out. In terms of season two, the thing that’s complicated about Kanon—he’s a villain but he’s not wrong, and you’ll find out why over time. I believe when you see two people in conflict in Power, they’re both right. There’s no scene if one person’s right and one person’s wrong. So if you think bout the scene between Tommy and Ghost, and Tommy’s like ‘Why are you in the club? Stop being in the club! Focus up on our drug business.’ He’s right. Ghost says, ‘We could have a different life and it could be better.’ He’s right.
50 Cent: And Tommy’s like, ‘Different? What do you mean different? This is how we got here and you’re losing money in the club.’
CKA: So in other words: we always try to stay on the side of reality, which is there’s no such thing as a “bad guy” because the “bad guy” is in positive motion in his own story. So even when Kanon gets out, he’s not sitting there, going, ‘I’m evil.’ He’s going ‘This is what needs to be done and I’m going to do it!’
It sounds like viewers might be able to reason with Kanon a little this season.
50 Cent: When you find yourself watching a film and you feel compassion for the bad guy and you like him a little, it’s because we all have a streak of a rebel in us. Kanon completely doesn’t give a f–k. It’s a difference between people who say it and people who genuinely don’t. The reason why season one is the way it is, is because Courtney was smart enough to allow you to focus on everyone else and to develop the characters the first season. People try to do it the first episode and introduce you to everyone, and create an understanding, but it was gradual with Power. But listen, before you get a chance to ask about comparisons to Empire…
50 Cent: The first episode of Empire is our whole season. They moved so fast. It was like ‘You saw how he came down the steps and said ‘Empire!’ Ghost comes down the stairs and says ‘Truth!’ and Terrence Howard shoots and kills someone like Ghost does in our first episode. Taraji comes out of jail after 17 years, and I come out of jail after 10, but I don’t show up until episode three because we’re busy developing the characters and telling the story. Courtney allows people to be invested in the areas that aren’t about the drug trade, and that are more about Ghost’s crisis and him being at a point where he’s saying, ‘I’m at the top of the drug trade, but maybe I could’ve done this differently because the end is always a bad end.’
CKA: Always! Ghost says it in episode three, ‘That doesn’t scare you,’ and Tasha says, ‘We already have it all and you’re better than others’. What she says is that, ‘You’re so good, you won’t end up that way.’
50 Cent: She has the mentality that majority of successful drug dealers have until it ends.
Speaking of successful drug dealers, I figured out it was Kanon behind all the shenanigans by maybe episode five or six. What do you make of your character?
50 Cent: Well, he’s not like a rocket scientist.
Really? Because first season, I thought he was brilliant.
CKA: He is!
50 Cent: But it’s also on a street level so it’s more manipulative. Kanon looks at everyone like everyone is up to something. In concept, what he’s saying is that he’s looking for his next meal and is willing to take it from whoever is in position. The thinking in tradition with old-school drug dealer mentality is: We get strong enough by acquiring the muscle to take over different areas and financially, we’re in a space where we have enough product to service other areas. We acquire it by killing whoever’s running the other portion of the neighborhood. It’s like moving from one continent to the next continent to take the land and control over those people. The thinking’s so old-fashioned that they think it’s something new.
So you wouldn’t offer any advice?
50 Cent: The person that he is isn’t as complex as people view it. Like Tommy’s character is the most honest character in the story, because once he learns the rules of what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do in the street…
50 Cent: 100 percent.
CKA: When you split up what is Curtis the person from Kanon, one thing I would say is: Curtis has vision, which we gave to Ghost. Kanon can see a lot of sh-t, but he has no vision. He can’t see wider. That’s his fatal flaw.
50 Cent: He wouldn’t have built what he feels like belongs to him because he wouldn’t have created this invisible crew with carriers dropping off drugs in the middle of the day at law offices and stuff like that. He’s a guy that would say, ‘We need them corners back.’
CKA: Even though he’s brilliant, he is limited.
Was your apprehension to Empire sincere?
50 Cent: My job is to make people excited about this project and it’s because of my passion connected to it. It’s not STARZ telling me to do anything. I’m not talking to them for a lot of stuff. A lot of what you see happening is on my own merit. The comparisons and the similarities in the marketing, it’s a corporate decision. Even STARZ. For the first time, they saw us hit our targeted audience as hard as we did with Power. You think they don’t see the stats? And they have a show that they want their demographic to be as passionate about so they put similar art, and when you see it right after Courtney went through the process of choosing what the images would be for Power, I go, ‘Yo, It looked like ours!’ and you know I’m vocal. Even the commercial that ran in the finale, I anticipated they would say something based on my activity and things I said, so I run the commercial, I bought the spot as an SMS Audio commercial and then swapped it out as ‘Empires are built on power.’
Photo Credit: STARZ