You listen to his songs, and in them, everything is about the ghetto and the prison – and there is already a mocking grimace on your face: “Lie more than what you saw there.”
A man of difficult fate with the voice of a 16-year-old teenager, a former thief of expensive cars and a prisoner of one of the harshest prisons in America, he still remembers the times when his friend Wyclef Jean did not wear dreadlocks, but cut his hair to zero, and is able to compare the stone jungles of New York suburbs with life in real African forests. Even though Akon is Senegalese he is a popular artist in Nigeria as well.
Unlike most of his brothers, the newfangled singer Akon knows firsthand the continent of his ancestors, where he lived until he was seven years old, where he spent all his school holidays and where, according to an old memory, he still visits with concerts. Akon, one hundred percent child of “yellow hot Africa”, hails from Senegal, a country whose capital, Dakar, once a year is driven across the Sahara by slightly crazy racing drivers from Paris, the capital of France.
Unlike MC Solaar, fate in the person of his own parents sent Akon, not to France, but overseas, to the USA, where he made a brilliant musical career. His father, musician Mor Thiam, a jazz percussionist and one of the main masters of playing the traditional folk drum djembe tried to instil in his son a love of music from an early age. His father taught him the craft of music and took him to concerts. Young Akon was not new to dating people like James Brown or the Jackson family. But the relationship with music somehow did not develop.
Not finding understanding among his classmates, he was ready to defend his opinion with his fists and quickly became known as a bully. And it turned out to be a stone’s throw from fights at recess to criminal adventures on the street. He also found a good common language with the American representatives of the vast Caribbean diaspora.
Akon’s influence even now can be seen in various industries. You can see slots on 22Bet based on the African theme and numerous Nigerian and Senegalese artists contributed to the growing popularity of rap.
The Caribbean has been in the heart of Africa since childhood. Back in his homeland, Akon got hooked on the work of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, and Fugees calls exactly those people who opened the door of the music industry for him.
Akon’s debut album, in memory of a difficult childhood, is called “Trouble”. The most serious problems came into his life when he left his father’s house and began to steal cars for a living. Boasting, Akon claims that his illegal business was organized no worse than in the movie Gone in 60 Seconds. According to him, he dealt only with luxurious expensive cars, which he then sold to celebrities: musicians, athletes and drug dealers. For which he received three years in prison in the late 90s.
Akon calls prison an experience that he would not want to repeat under any circumstances. He no longer wanted to live by the code of gentlemen of fortune “stole, drank, go to jail.” However, it was in prison that he began to write poetry, “Locked Up” and “Getto” were born there, where he thought about the future, remembered his mother and father, who prophesied a completely different fate for him.
Having sent out a good hundred demos, he met with interest on the SRC label, a division of the world giant Universal. And in June 2004 he released his debut album “Trouble” there. Which, although it didn’t reach the top of the charts, but with a stranglehold clung to a place in the second or third ten, and stayed there for a year, condescendingly looking at the former leaders of the charts rolling down one by one. So on the sly, he got to platinum status: this is not counting the more than successful sales of singles.
Being the sole author and producer of all songs, Akon did not limit himself in the search for a new sound, the choice of optimal formulas and solutions. One of the first successful experiments was the composition Show Out, in which the singer recited excerpts from the poems of the school curriculum. The single Locked Up, conceived by Akon during his imprisonment, enjoyed huge popularity. There he came up with the idea, implemented in the hit Ghetto.
Akon’s next record, Konvicted (2006), was recognized as one of the best releases of the year. All songs except one were written by the singer himself. Some of the artist’s friends took part in the recording of the disc. The composition Smack That was performed together with Eminem. This song made a dizzying flight in the Top 100 from the ninety-fifth line to the seventh 100. Snoop Dogg also helped the young artist by taking part in the creation of ballads.
Akon to this day still remains popular in Nigeria. His songs are played and no question, his legacy will continue in the future not only in Africa but in other countries as well.