Akon, or as he is officially known, Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam is a Senegalese – American rapper, singer and songwriter, actor, record producer and businessman. He was born in 1973, April 16 in Senegal. Over the years, Akon has risen to be one of the most renowned artists and rappers in the world. The year 2004 specifically was when his fame grew because as a result of the single hit Locked up in the debut album Trouble. Apart from his songs and music, Akon is also known for his two record labels Konvict Muzik and Kon Live Distribution. He has worked with numerous other artists including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Gwen Stefani. In 2011, Forbes ranked him as the 8oth most powerful celebrity on the Forbes Celebrity list and 5th among the most powerful celebrities in Africa.
Born in St. Louis in Missouri, Akon spent much of his early life in Senegal. He calls this place his ‘hometown’. His Father was also a musician who played five instruments while his mother was a dancer. Later on he moved with his family to New Jersey with his family before settling in Newark. He is also secretive about his birth date, hence the many incorrect date by different media, but legal documents by The Smoking Gun, a website that posts legal documents about people indicates his birth date as April 16, 1973, Biography.com Editors, (2015).
Akon Music Life
Akon’s music career began when he was in Jail. There, he met Devyne Stephens, a music mogul and president of Upfront Megatainment through Akon’s friend and rapper Lil Zane. Akon and Stephens started as friends and as a mentorship relationship until later when Stephens signed him to his company. Later on, Akon also met other mentors and producers such as Jerome Foster and Steve Rifkind who helped him grow in his music. He also continued being famous when he worked with other artists such as rapper Savage and P-Money, a producer.
In 2004, June 29, Akon released his first album Trouble. It included singles such as Lonely, Locked Up, Pot Of Gold, Ghetto and Belly Dancer.Ghetto when remixed to include rap verses from The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac became a radio hit. Locked Up was also among the top songs of the time. One to note about Akon’s music apart from his unique voice is that each of his songs start with the sound of an opening jail cell door them him saying the word ‘Konvict’, Biography.com Editors, (2015).
His single Lonely was release later in 2005 which reached top 5 in the Billboard Hot 100 while topping charts in several countries. It also became the longest running single on The Box weekly top ten. Later on he released Moonshine featuring Savage which was also a hit. Before the end of 2006, Akon was also a guest artist in Young Jeezy’s song Soul Survivor that was in the debut album Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.
Akon released his second album Konvicted in November 2006 which was number two on the on the Billboard 200, had sold more than 200,000 copies by the first week and more than a million record by end of the first one and a half months. Before the year ended, the album has sold over three million copies and was declared triple platinum, Biography.com Editors, (2015).
Some of the collaborations included in the album were with Eminem, Styles P. and Snoop Dogg. The single Smack That was top two on the Billboard Hot 100 for over for weeks. It also helped Akon break a record of climbing from number 95 to number 7. Another single from the album I Wanna Love You made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. The other singles on the album Mama Africa and Don’t Matter were also very huge hits. In addition, the album Sorry, Blame It On Me (deluxe edition) was released in November 2007 and was on the Billboard Hot 100 top ten. That same year, Akon produced Gwen Stefani’s the Sweet Escape. The single ended up being number two on the Billboard Hot 100. Akon’s clothing line Konvict Clothing was also launched the same year, Biography.com Editors, (2015).
Akon’s third album, Freedom, was released on 2nd December 2008. Some of the singles in the album included Beautiful, Right Now, We Don’t Care and I’m So Paid. The album was a hi it and was Platinum certified. That same year, Akon produced song for several artists such as Kardinal Offishall and Flippsyde. He also helped Lady Gaga to write her hit Just Dance.
Unfortunately, around that same time Michael Jackson whom Akin to was working with also died. Akon then released a single Cry Out Of Joy which was a tribute to Michael Jackson. There were many rumors about the details of Akon working with Michael Jackson that were circulating. However, Akin finished on the Album that Michael Jackson was working on then, Michael and released it in 2010, Biography.com Editors, (2015).
Later on Akon also did collaborations with several other artists such as Pitbull, New Kids On the Block, Whitney Houston and Alexandra Burke. Akon also collaborated with David Guetta on the single Sexy Bitch which was a major hit. That year, Forbes reported Akin Toto be worth 21 million dollars worth.
Later on Akon to release another single Angel. This was produced by David Guetta. The song was performed in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Akon also did collaborations with other artist such as Dr. Dre and Snoop the Dogg on the single Kush. After the Haiti earthquake, Akon was among the team that did We Are The World: 25 For Haiti, a single meant as charity after the earthquake. He also worked with Wiz Khalifa on the single Dirty Work before later releasing the standalone single So Blue.
In 2015, Akon’s fourth album Stadium was released. This was done in different versions such as world, urban, island and house, Biography.com Editors, (2015).
Other of Akon’s Projects
One of the other things that Akon has been part of is founding the Akon Lighting Africa project in 2014. This project was meant to provide lighting for 15 countries in Africa, (Foran, 2014).
Film and Television
Slowly by slowly Akon has also ventured into the world of films and television. Some of the programs that Akon has been featured include I Am A Singer and My Brother’s Keeper. Akon has also been to Big Brother House and the WWE Raw. Some of the movies in which Akin has been featured include Black November and American Heist.
Akon is one of the most renowned artist and rapper in the world. Most of his singles and all of his albums have been hits that have done well in the Billboard Hot 100. Akon has also worked with many other legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Whitney Houston, Alexandra Burke and David Guetta among others. Apart from music, Akon has also involved himself with other projects such as the Akon Lighting Africa Project.
Biography.com Editors, (2015). Akon Biography.com. Biography.com. Retrieved on 26th April 2017 from http://www.biography.com/people/akon-21330753
Foran, C., (2014). Akon is Pushing Solar Power in Africa. The Atlantic. Retrieved on 26th April 2017 from www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/444906/