Akon: Versatility At Its Best
He was born Aliaune Damala Badara Thiam, but you know him as Akon. He is an award-winning recording artist, songwriter and record producer. He is the co-founder of Konvict Muzik and Kon Live Distribution. He has worked with artists like Gwen Stefani, Young Jeezy, 50 Cent, Leona Lewis, Lady GaGa and the list goes on. He has a ton of things that he’s working on. Keep reading to learn more about this Senegalese born star.
Given his upbringing, it’s no wonder that Akon is the successful star that he is today. Akon’s dad, Mor Thiam introduced him to a variety of music at a very early age. “I grew-up listening to all kinds of music. Obviously I love soul songs, but I also like mixing in other types of music,” he said in an interview with ArtistDirect.com. “For every Stevie Wonder track I’ve listened to, there is another by Steely Dan that helped shape me as an artist,” he continued.
In 2003, Akon released his debut album “Trouble” which sold more than 3 million albums worldwide. This radiant storyteller and gifted musician took off with success. His chart topping single “Locked Up” reached the no. 8 spot on U.S music charts. Akon’s second album “Konvicted” was released in 2006 and he produced and wrote everything except one song. This album was a banger and featured songs with Eminem (Smack That), and Snoop Dogg (“I Want to Love You), which was Akon’s first single on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Freedom” was released in late 2008 and sold more than 1 million copies during it’s first week. His first single off the album was “Right Now” and this track peaked at the no. 8 spot of the Billboard Top 100 charts.
The list of artists that Akon has worked with can be considered a mile long. How does he decide who he wants to work with? In an interview with IGN International, he said “A lot of those collaborations just came naturally. Prime example, with the “So Paid” record, I actually reached out to Jeezy and Lil Wayne because that was a record I could just hear them on it, you know what I’m sayin’? It was like ‘Damn, I hear Jeezy on this record’ or ‘Lil Wayne would sound crazy on this record.’ That’s how I actually pick.
“A lot of the other collaborations, they just happen as you’re either walkin’ by the studio or they just happen to be there that day and heard the song, loved it, and got on it or we were just vibin’ on a different record and then decide to work together. A lot of these songs just come naturally, it’s not like nothin’ that we actually choreograph and put together.”
Akon has come a long way since his days of singing “I’m Locked Up.” “I’m the same guy since day one—since “Locked Up.” The only thing that’s changed with me is my dress code. Seriously, that’s only because I can afford to wear some designer suits and custom-made European cut clothes. I’ve always wanted to do stuff like that, and I always wanted to express and dress the way I actually felt—the intelligence. I always wanted to do a lot of good business and walk into a corporate office with a suit and tie. That’s what I always wanted to do, and I can do it now.”
Carrying the titles of singer, writer and producer is not easy to juggle. In an interview with blogcritics.org Akon mentioned, “The key is really to continue to just do it. When you overload, then you have to find the balance. But the key is to get it done. And sometimes you have to let somebody else figure out how to balance it.”
“That’s always my key. I have a whole bunch of material set up and when it’s time to put something in place, I just hire people to get down and do it. ‘This is what I need over here; this is what I need over there.’ And I continue doing what I need to do so I can stay creative,” he continued. Akon also has a foundation called Konfidence Foundation. The foundation’s slogan is “Believe in the future of Africa. The foundation focuses its efforts in Senegal where they build schools and hospitals. Akon told blogcritics.org that “The foundation really focuses on children, because the only thing that can change Africa — the way of thinking, the way of development — is the kids. In order to do that, you got to prepare them for it. We have to make sure that the schools are in great condition and the hospitals have the proper equipment to treat them, so that Africa’s children are stable and moving. That way, the future of Africa is pretty secure.”
Akon recently appeared on VH1’s “Behind The Music” where his rise to fame was shared with millions to view. He’s currently working on his fourth studio album, “Stadium” which is slated to be released later this year in September.