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Things you didn’t know about the African artist Akon

Akon arrives at the Clive Davis 2013 Pre-GRAMMY Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 9, 2013 in Beverly Hills, CA. Source: Kathclick, Bigstock.

What is he famous for?

Akon (birth name Aliaune Dama Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam) is famous for being a Senegalese-American singer, songwriter, record producer, philanthropist, actor and entrepreneur.

Akon has achieved a number of records in his career, including being the first solo singer to hold both the number one and two spot on the US Hot 100 charts on two separate occasions. The singer has four songs which have reached triple platinum certification, three songs with have received double platinum certifications and more than ten songs which have been certified platinum. The singer has also received an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records as the top selling artist for ringtones worldwide.

The singer has also often appeared as a featured artist in songs with other artists and has received credits on more than 300 songs, 35 of which have reached the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. He has received five Grammy Award nominations for his vocals. The singer has released six albums, in which he managed much of his own production and he has also worked as a producer for other artists such as Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Lionel Richie, Leona Lewis, Sean Paul and Whitney Houston.

Source: U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Wikimedia Commons.

Early Career

After spending three years in jail, Akon began to recognise that he had an interest in music. He was heard by music executive Devyne Stephens, president of Upfront Megatainment after the rapper Lil’ Zane brought him with him to the rehearsal hall (a place that was responsible for developing artists such as Usher and TLC). Akon and Stephens developed a friendship and mentorship and the music executive signed him to his production company to continue developing him professionally. Akon recorded music with Stephens and his songs were brought to the attention of SRC Records who flew out to meet him. The singer was signed and his debut album ‘Trouble’ was released in 2004. The singles ‘Locked Up’, ‘Lonely’, ‘Belly Dancer (Bananza), ‘Pot of Gold’ and ‘Ghetto’ were well received and became radio hits.

The singles ‘Lonely’ topped the charts in Australia, the UK and Germany. The following year the singer was featured on the song ‘Soul Survivor’ by Young Jeezy, the song was critically acclaimed.

Source: Sandra Alphonse, Wikimedia Commons.

Career Breakthrough

The singer released his second album ‘Konvicted’ in 2006, the album debuted at number two in the US and sold more than 286,000 copies in its first week. Within six weeks the album sold more than one million records in the United States and the following week received platinum certification (it was later certified triple platinum). The album remained in the top 20 on the charts for 28 consecutive weeks. The singles on the album included collaborations with other artists including Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Style P. The first single from the album, ‘Smack That’ featured Eminem and went to number two on the Hot 100 charts. The single was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the Grammy Awards.

The singers second single ‘I Wanna Love You’ was released in September 2006, the song became the singers first number one hit. His third single from the album ‘Don’t Matter’ also went to number one and became his first solo hit.

The following year, Akon released a clothing line called ‘Konvict Clothing’, an urban wear brand and a high end clothing line called ‘Aliaune’. The singer also produced and featured in ‘The Sweet Escape’ which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Akon’s third album was released in 2008, titled ‘Freedom’ the album received platinum certification in the US. Prior to his death, Akon had been working with Michael Jackson and he released a tribute song called ‘Cry Out of Joy’ after his death. A song titled ‘Hold My Hand’, a collaboration between Akon and Michael Jackson was leaked to the internet in 2008. The song was the last known song that Michael Jackson worked on before he died.

Akon continued doing quite a lot of song writing and recording work, working with the New Kids on the Block on their reunion album ‘The Block’. He also worked with Leona Lewis on her single ‘Forgive Me’ and collaborated with Whitney Houston on her comeback album ‘I Look to You’.

The singer also worked with Pitbull on his single ‘Shut It Down’ and collaborated with David Guetta on the song ‘Sexy Bitch’ which reached number one in six countries.

Akon & Haze portant Defend Paris, 2 January 2007. Source: Julien Jaubert, Wikimedia Commons.

Continuing Career

The singer worked with Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg on the song ‘Kush’ in 2010, the song peaked at number 36 on the album charts. In the same year he also contributed to the ‘We Are The World’’ concert for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. After taking almost three years away from his solo work the singer released the single ‘Dirty Work’, which featured Wiz Khalifa. The song, released in 2013 peaked at number 31 on the charts.

In 2015 he released a number of singles but they failed to chart, the singles were from his upcoming album ‘Stadium’ which was planned for exclusive released on the Stadium mobile app but the albums were later indefinitely postponed.

He released a number of singles in late 2015 and early 2016 after signing a new deal with Atlantic Records.

More recently the singer has announced that he had started his own record label called Akonik Label Group and that he had plans to release four studio albums from different genres. The singer released his first Latin single titled ‘Get Money’, the song features the rapper Anuel AA.

The singer was originally intended to be included in Akon’s fourth album El Negreeto but the song didn’t make the cut on the final version of the album. The album was originally planned for released on August 2019 but the release was pushed back in October 2019.

In September 2019 the singer released the song ‘Como No’ which featured the Mexican-American singer Becky G. Following the release of his album ‘El Negreeto’, Akon released the album ‘Akonda’ in 2019 which contained Afrobeats music. The singer plans to release the album ‘Konnect’ in 2020, the album will include Hip Hop and R&B songs, planned singles are ‘Benjamin’ and ‘Cant Say No’.

Since 2014 the singer has been involved in the project ‘Akon Lighting Africa’ which helps to provide electricity to homes in 15 countries throughout Africa. The philanthropist also runs his own charity called the Konfidence Foundation which helps underprivileged children in Africa.

Akon also announced in 2018 that he had plans to work with the Senegalese government to build a tourist-city named Akon City; the city would run on a crypto currency-based economy. The project is reportedly under development and will have the distinction of being the first crypto currency based city in the world. The city is planned to run on Akon’s only crypto currency called Akoin. The city is being built near Blaise Diagne International Airport which is approximately 50 kilometres from capital city Dakar and will sit across around 2,000 acres of land.

In January 2020, Akon shared a photo of himself with the Senegal president Macky Sall and announced that development was underway after multi-billion dollar agreements about the project were finalised between the singer and the countries president.

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