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Akon Biography

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Aliaune Thiam, aka Akon grew up in Senegal before he and his family (including his father, jazz percussionist Mor Thiam) eventually settled in New Jersey. There he discovered hip-hop for the first time, as well as crime. He was eventually jailed, but he used the time to work on his musical ideas. Upon release, Akon began writing and recording tracks in a home studio. The tapes found their way to SRC/Universal, which eventually released Trouble, Akon’s debut LP, in June 2004. The album was an interesting hybrid of Akon’s raps and silky, West African-styled vocals with East Coast- and Southern-styled beats.
 
The mere act of surviving on a day to day basis is the foundation from which a true artist builds his craft. Multi-talented newcomer AKON is no exception to this rule. His dynamic debut album, TROUBLE, a collection of stirring songs, creatively reflects the ups and downs of the singer/songwriter/producer’s life experiences. A crafty blend of soulful hip-hop, TROUBLE is AKON’s vibrant first time tour-de-force.

He grosses over 30 million dollars a year according to Forbes. He rose to prominence in 2004 following the release of “Locked Up”, the first single from his debut album Trouble. His second album, Konvicted, earned him a Grammy Award nomination of the single “Smack That”. He has since founded two record labels, Konvict Muzik and Kon Live Distribution.

Akon often sings hooks for other artists and is currently accredited with over 300 guest appearances and 40 Billboard Hot 100 songs. He has worked with numerous performers such as Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Quincy Jones, Eminem and Whitney Houston. He is the first solo artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice. He has had 6 Grammy Awards nominations and has produced many hits for artists such as Lady Gaga, Colby O’Donis and Leona Lewis. Lady Gaga and T-Pain are two artists who were given their chance at fame by Akon. He has also released a song called “Beautiful” featuring Colby O’Donis and Kardinal Offishall which is in his hit album named Freedom which he released in 2008 and also “Right Now (Na Na Na)” in the same album.

“TROUBLE evolved from the struggles I went through and what I did and am still doing to correct those things,” offers AKON, who has had his fair share of adolescent problems with both the legal and school system, as is reflected in his redemption song “Trouble Nobody.” “I’ve got a habit of writing about everything I go through,” he explains, “and this album gives a glimpse of where I am now.”

To understand where AKON is right now is just half the equation. The other half lies in where he came from: this young artist possesses a unique history. A Senegalese African, AKON moved to the United States when he was seven. His family is headed by legendary percussionist and jazz musician Mor Thiam, whose expertise for playing the Djembe, a traditional African drum, has been touted as “unrivaled.” Being brought up in an environment that treasures the true artistic value of musicianship and revels in the mastering of instrumental skill has had a momentous affect on AKON.

It was AKON’s deep rooted love and passion for music, evolving from filial admiration, which allowed him to turn his life around, despite his trouble as a youth residing in New Jersey. AKON began playing several different percussion instruments and eventually embraced hip-hop music and culture, despite his initial disdain for the genre. “When I first heard hip-hop I thought it was rubbish because I didn’t understand the concept of people talking over music,” AKON recalls, “But as I started growing up, living a little and listening to the lyrics, I realized that I was going through a lot of stuff these rappers were talking about and I could relate.”

Once hip-hop took over his life, AKON’s musical development exploded and he began channeling his energy into writing and producing his own music. Songs such as “Show Out” display how much hip-hop has influenced him. Over the sparsely yet hard hitting groove, “Don’t tempt me/’Cuz I’m close to the edge/I’m trying not to lose my head,” ring the lyrics that cleverly integrates original school lyrics. At the same time, the song pays homage to hip-hop pioneers all while maintaining its own identity.

Meanwhile, his first single “Bananza (Belly Dance)” exhibits another side of the artist. On this song AKON puts forth a feel-good vibe. Singing over a seductive and sensual beat, “Bananza (Belly Dance),” is one of AKON’s most irresistible tracks. The song integrates a unique up tempo dance beat with a distinct wind instrumentation floating in the background guaranteed to improve every listener’s mood. The reason for this, AKON says, “There are a lot of negative things going on today.” “We need to party and just have fun,” he continues, “‘Bananza…’ is a party record. You just go in the club, party and enjoy those beautiful women.”

However, life does not solely revolve around beautiful women and leisure time and AKON is well aware of this. On the somber, soulful “Ghetto” and the meditative, impressive “Journey,” AKON gives listeners an in-depth look into a harsher world, one that is just as gripping as it is chilling. But rather than sensationalize his own drama, AKON transmits, to his audience, the feeling of being a part of his inner circle.

AKON’s personal appeal and ability to reach a listener is a part of his whole package: a package that includes, most importantly, his distinctive vocals and a relaxed singing style. It is as though he is speaking to you as he sings in a very intimate manner. “When I sing the sound comes from the mood that I am in. These records are coming straight from the heart,” AKON divulges.

Genuine and honest, AKON’s music is a step in a new direction: a trajectory that will lead us on a delightfully fulfilling path. Says AKON, “When I’m on the mic, I’m just giving the listener a part of me.” Be prepared to receive it.

Akon’s second album, Konvicted was released on November 14, 2006. It included collaborations with Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Styles P. The first single “Smack That” featuring Eminem was released in August 2006 and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. “I Wanna Love You,” (featuring Snoop Dogg) was the second single released in September, it would go on to earn Akon his first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and Snoop’s second. “I Wanna Love You” topped the U.S. charts for two consecutive weeks. In January 2007, a third single “Don’t Matter” which earned him his first solo number one and second consecutive Hot 100 chart topper was released. “Mama Africa” was released as a European single in July 2007, making it the fourth overall single from the album reaching just 47 in the UK.

Akon released his new album Freedom on December 2, which spawned four singles: “Right Now (Na Na Na)”, “I’m So Paid” (featuring Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy), “Beautiful” (featuring Kardinal Offishall and Colby O’Donis) and “We Don’t Care”. “We Don’t Care” has failed to chart significantly in many countries, only reaching 61 in the UK and 91 in Australia.

After the unexpected death of The King Of Pop Michael Jackson, who Akon was working with in Jackson’s last years, Akon released a tribute song called “Cry Out Of Joy”. Akon & Michael Jackson were close friends near the end of Jackson’s life.

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