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Aliaune Badara Akon Thiam, better known by his middle and stage name Akon ( ), is a Senegalesemarker-American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, businessman, and philanthropist. 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.He is known as one of the most successful and versatile R&B singers of the 21st century, grossing over 30 million dollars a year according to Forbes.Akon often sings hooks for other artists and is currently accredited with over 200 guest appearances and 36 Billboard Hot 100 songs. 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 artist such as Lady Gaga, T-Pain, Leona Lewis. He has had 19 top 20 hits world wide.

Background

Akon has claimed in interviews that his full name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam although there is some ambiguity and debate about Akon's legal name and birth date. Akon is usually credited as Aliaune Thiam. In addition to the longer form, Akon's full name has been reported both as Aliaune Badara Thiam and Alioune Badara Thiam and About.com claims that this middle name has never been independently verified.Nero, Mark Edward. Akon Profile, About.com. In regards to his birth date, some media institutions have reported that Akon was born in 1981. Other sources, including the AP, have indicated that Akon was born in 1973 and was delivered by Senegalese doctor Magueye Seck.

Legal documents released by The Smoking Gun list Akon's name as Aliaune Damala Thiam and his date of birth as 1973-04-30 or 1973-04-16, however the BBC states he was born on 14 October 1981.

Early life

As the son of Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam, Akon was raised in a musical setting and taught to play several instruments including the djembe. He was born in St. Louismarker, Missouri, U.S., so that he would not have to go through the immigration process, but he lived in Dakar, Senegalmarker until the age of 7, split time between America and Senegal until he was 15, then he moved permanently to Jersey Citymarker, New Jersey.Bottomley, C. " Akon: Trouble No More", VH1.com, 2005-05-02.

During Akon's alleged time in jail for three years, he began to understand his music abilities and developed an appreciation for his musical background. Akon's unique blend of West-African-style, skills and moves eventually caught the ears of executives at Universal. Akon began writing and recording tracks in his home studio. The tapes found their way to SRC/Universal, which released Akon's debut LP Trouble in June 2004. The album is a hybrid of Akon's silky, West African-styled vocals mixed with East Coast and Southern beats. Most of Akon's songs begin with the sound of the clank of a jail cell's door with him uttering the word "Konvict".

Personal life and allegations

Akon is a Muslim, as he explains he has never drunk alcohol due to his faith. He has also been rumored to have three wives, however he has since revealed that he only has one, named Tomeka. Akon claims he has six children with three different women in an interview with Blender. Akon claims to have great relationships with all his children, and that he wishes to keep his family protected from the public eye. He also states that his religion made him a better person, and provides guidance to how he acts among others in life.

He also has his own charity for underprivileged children in Africa called Konfidence Foundation. Akon owns a diamond mine in South Africa and denies the existence of blood diamonds (also known as "conflict diamonds") saying, "I don't even believe in conflict diamonds. That's just a movie. Think about it. Ain't nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out." However, he has since stated that he does accept that blood diamonds exist, and that he is partial-owner of an African mine that is dedicated to avoiding use of blood diamonds while also donating profits to local communities. He allegedly had a previous occupation as a drug dealer but has stated in interviews that he's never used drugs, though some of his lyrics would suggest otherwise.

"The Smoking Gun" reported in April 2008 that much of Akon's purported criminal and incarceration history has been dramatically embellished. In particular, Akon's claims to be part of an auto-theft ring and his claim to have spent three years in prison were challenged with court records and interviews with detectives involved in Akon's case.

According to "The Smoking Gun's" article, Akon was not convicted of any crime and did not serve any time in prison from 1999 to 2002 as previously claimed. He stated that "The Smoking Gun's" attempt to “discredit” him “makes no sense as it is something he is trying to forget.” Akon retorted that he never spent 3 years in prison consecutively, but many shorter sentences that add up to three years, and cites that as the mis-understanding by The Smoking Gun's article Despite his alleged criminal history, Akon proclaims that he has turned his life around.

Career

2004–05: Debut: Trouble

Akon's solo debut album, Trouble was released on June 29, 2004. It spawned the singles "Locked Up" and "Lonely", "Belly Dancer ", "Pot Of Gold", and "Ghetto." The album was the first release of his new record label Konvict Music. The inspiration for his debut single allegedly came from his three-year stint in prison for ‘grand theft auto’. "Locked Up" reached the top 10 in the U.S. and the top five in the UK. "Ghetto" became a radio hit when it was remixed by DJ Green Lantern to include verses from rappers 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.

In 2005, he released the single "Lonely" (which samples Bobby Vinton's "Mr. Lonely"). The song reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, and topped the charts in Australia, the UK and Germany. His album also climbed to number one in the UK in April, 2005. When music channel The Box had a top ten weekly chart, which was calculated by the amount of video requests, Akon's "Lonely" became the longest running single on the top of the chart, spanning over fifteen weeks. Akon then released another single featuring with a New Zealand rapper, Savage with the single Moonshine, which had become a success in both New Zealand and Australia, becoming number one in the New Zealand charts. In 2005, He made his first critically acclaimed guest appearance on Young Jeezy's debut album, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, with the song "Soul Survivor." In December the same year his manager, Robert Montanez was killed in a shooting after a dispute in New Jerseymarker.

2006–07: Konvicted

Akon performing with Gwen Stefani on The Sweet Escape Tour.
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.
To coincide with the release of the Platinum (deluxe) edition of the album "Sorry, Blame It on Me" was the album's fifth single, debuted in August 2007 on the Hot 100 at number seven.

The deluxe version was fully released on August 28, 2007.

The final single was confirmed by Akon to be "Never Took the Time."

Konvicted debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 286,000 copies in its first week.

After only six weeks, Konvicted sold more than one million records in the U.S. and more than 1.3 million worldwide.

The album was certified platinum after seven weeks, and after sixteen weeks it was certified double platinum.

It stayed in the top twenty of the Billboard 200 for 28 consecutive weeks and peaked at number two on four different occasions.

On November 20, 2007, the RIAA certified the album ‘triple platinum’ with 3 million units sold in the US.

It has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.


On October 5, 2006, Akon broke a record on the Hot 100, as he achieved the largest climb in the chart's 48-year-history with "Smack That" jumping from number 95 to 7. The leap was fueled by its number six debut on Hot Digital Songs with 67,000 downloads. The record has since been broken several times. In December 2006, Akon's "Smack That" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, but lost to Justin Timberlake and T.I.'s "My Love".

Projects with other artists



Legal difficulties

In April 2007, Akon drew criticism for having a racy dance with Danah (Deena) Alleyne, a preacher's daughter aged 15 at the time, at a club in Trinidad and Tobagomarker, as part of a fake contest, despite the club's claim to have a 21 years and over age limit. The incident was filmed by Akon's crew and later uploaded to the Internet. On April 20, 2007 local media, channel TV6, aired the video clip publicly. Amid criticism on the radio, television, and from the blogosphere, Verizon Wireless removed ringtones featuring Akon's songs. Verizon also decided not to sponsor The Sweet Escape Tour where Akon was to be the opening act for Gwen Stefani. However, Universal Music Group did not take action against Akon, but rather simply ordered the video clip be removed from video-sharing site YouTube due to copyright infringement. Conservative commentator and Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell called this "corporate irresponsibility."

Political commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and Bill O'Reilly criticized Akon for "degrading women." Malkin uploaded commentary about Akon to YouTube, using footage from music videos and the Trinidad concert, and Universal Music Group then forced its removal by issuing a DMCA takedown notice.The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined Malkin in contesting the removal as a misuse of copyright law, citing fair use. In May 2007, UMG rescinded its claim to the video, and the video returned to YouTube.

On June 3, 2007, at WSPKmarker's KFEST concert at the Dutchess Stadiummarker in Fishkill, New Yorkmarker, a concert attendee threw an object towards Akon on stage. Akon asked the crowd to identify who threw the object and that he be brought on stage. Security staff grabbed the young man and took him up to the stage. Akon then pulled him up from the crowd and hoisted him across his shoulders. The singer then tossed the attendee back into the crowd from his shoulders. Video of the incident was reviewed by Fishkill police. Akon has claimed that the incident was staged and that he in fact used the act to set up for the next record. Charges of endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor, and second-degree harassment, a violation, were filed, according to police Chief Donald F. Williams, and Akon was arraigned the two charges on December 3, 2007 in the town of Fishkill Court.

2008–present: Freedom

Akon released his new album Freedom on December 2, which spawned four singles: "Right Now ", "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 so far. The album has reached gold status by selling over 600,000 units. . 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 Jackon's life.

Speaking of his relationship with Michael Jackson to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning 'Blues & Soul' in October 2008,Akon stated: "Mike is the King Of Pop, and I think that it's a dream come true for ANY major artist/songwriter/producer to be able to work with the best in the business! You know, to work with someone like Mike – who's created opportunities, opened doors for so many people, and achieved so much in the music world, period – is just an experience which would be enough to take home for ANYONE! I mean, when I first flew up to Vegas and met him it was almost like we'd known each other for YEARS! LITERALLY! 'Cause musically we were on the same exact page! The chemistry was just INCREDIBLE! And, as a person, he was the most cool, humble dude I've ever met! I mean, we even actually got to go to the movies together – in broad daylight! Which was an experience in itself!"

David Guetta collaborated with Akon in Sexy Bitch, a first house track by Akon, and has been a "summer anthem" across the globe. Reaching #1 in more than 5 countries, and charting at 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 , it is featured on Guetta's One Love album. Which has made it his 19th Top 20 hit worldwide.

Akon's fourth studio album, Stadium Music is set for a 2010 release.

Television and film

Akon has confirmed that a reality television show is in the works. It will be called "My Brother's Keeper" and the point is that Akon's two nearly identical brothers will go around in Atlanta posing as him fooling people into thinking that it is in fact Akon. They will try to get VIP treatment, girls and free things. Akon has claimed that people have mistaken his brothers for him many times in Atlanta which is what the show is based on.

Akon is planning to work on a full-length movie titled Illegal Alien. The film is based on some of the events of his life and actor Mekhi Phifer is set to play him.Besides Akon confirmed in August 2007, in the interview with Polish website INTERIA.PL, that he works on a movie "Cocaine Cowboys," which tells the story of Jon Roberts, the main pilot of Medellin Cartel (Colombian drug traffickers).He was also featured on a Verizon Wireless commercial and singing Snitch along with Obie Trice on a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode named "Poppin' Tags."

On November 30, 2007, Akon entered the Big Brother house in Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2 as a guest so the housemates can meet him for only 100 seconds.

He also appeared on November 17, 2008 edition of WWE Raw, with Santino Marella citing him in his speech. Because of Santino's Italian Stereotyping, he mispronounced Akon's name to "Akorn".

On April 27, 2008, Akon appeared with Colby O'Donis in Dance on Sunset.

Fashion

In February 2007, Akon launched his clothing line, Konvict Clothing. It features urban streetwear including denim jeans, hoodies, t-shirts and hats. Aliaune is the upscale version, or high-end line, for males and females, which includes blazers, denim jeans and other items. Timothy Hodge appeared on MTV's Direct Effect alongside Akon while promotioning the Konvict clothing line.

Discography



Awards and nominations

Akon received four Grammy Award nominations in 2008, including Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "The Sweet Escape" with Gwen Stefani, Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Bartender" with T-Pain, Best Contemporary R&B Album for Konvicted, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with "I Wanna Love You" with Snoop Dogg. The only award that Akon has received is Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist from the American Music Awards in 2007. Overall, Akon has received one award from twelve nominations.

American Music Awards

The American Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony created by Dick Clark in 1973. Akon has received one award from three nominations.

Akon Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist
Artist of the Year
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist

Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Akon has received five nominations.

"Smack That" (with Eminem) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
"The Sweet Escape" (with Gwen Stefani) Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals
"Bartender" (with T-Pain) Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
Konvicted Best Contemporary R&B Album
"I Wanna Love You" (with Snoop Dogg) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

MTV Video Music Awards

The MTV Video Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1984 by MTV. Akon has received four nominations.

"Locked Up" MTV2 Award
Akon Male Artist of the Year
"Smack That" (with Eminem) Most Earthshattering Collaboration
"The Sweet Escape" (with Gwen Stefani) Most Earthshattering Collaboration

Tours



References

  1. Ingolo.com: Pronunciation of Akon.
  2. Bronson, Fred. " Chart Beat", Billboard Magazine, 2007-04-05.
  3. Akon at The Ellen Degeneres Show and in other interviews (January 7 2009).
  4. Rollingstones: Akon’s name “Rolling Stone magazine, 2006-11-02.
  5. ASCAP: Credited as Aliaune Thiam accessed April 7, 2009
  6. " Akon se rattrape à Iba Mar Diop", SenePortal, 2005-06-05.
  7. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0416081dutchmisd2.html
  8. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0416081njjudgment1.html
  9. Akon profile About.com. Retrieved on 2009-03-23.
  10. Who Does Akon Think He Is? Blender, September 19, 2007.
  11. Fraser McAlpine (7 February 2007) Ask Akon, And Answers Arrive! BBC Radio 1 (BBC). Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  12. Egere-Cooper, Matilda. Akon: So what if I own a diamond mine?.Independent, 2007-02-16.
  13. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/arts/17arts-AKONSRAPSHEE_BRF.html
  14. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,351580,00.html
  15. Akon's Con Job, The Smoking Gun, 2008-04-16.
  16. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1587614/20080516/akon.jhtml
  17. Tang, Melisa. Akon: The Good With The Bad, BallerStatus.com, 2007-08-02.
  18. Reid, Shaheem. Saga Of Young Jeezy, Akon Continues With Possible Duet LP, MTV News, 2006-06-15.
  19. Petipas, Jolene. Young Jeezy Teams With Akon For Collabo CD, SOHH, 2006-12-07.
  20. " My List: Akon". Rolling Stone, 2007-04-03.
  21. Cohen, Jonathan. " T.I. Stretches Out With Eminem, Timbaland, Wyclef", Billboard, 2007-04-14.
  22. Rodriguez, Jayson. " Mario Gets Back To Making Music With Akon, Timbaland, Neptunes", MTV.com, 2007-04-13.
  23. Cohen, Jonathan. " Daddy Yankee Drafts Fergie, Akon For New Album", Billboard, 2007-04-03.
  24. http://nkotb.com/blog/2008/08/donnie-talks-music
  25. MTV: Whitney & AKon Collab
  26. Telesford, Nigel. Akon 'cons' Trinidad, Trinidad Express, 2007-04-14.
  27. Ramnarine, Kristy. Zen owner: for club, Trinidad Express, 2007-04-20.
  28. Leeds, Jeff. Verizon Drops Pop Singer From Ads, New York Times, 2007-05-10.
  29. Bozell, L. Brent III. Rapper Not a "Perfect Gentleman", ParentsTV.org, 2007-05-24.
  30. Malkin, Michelle. Look who’s promoting a vulgar misogynist, MichelleMalkin.com, 2007-05-03.
  31. Pulse Report, SOHH.com, 2007-05-11.
  32. Malkin, Michelle. "Akon's record company abuses DMCA to stifle criticism on YouTube", MichelleMalkin.com, 2007-05-03.
  33. "Malkin Fights Back Against Copyright Law Misuse by Universal Music Group", Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2007-05-09.
  34. Police: Akon investigation continues, Poughkeepsie Journal, 2007-08-29.
  35. Akon Faces Charges, Poughkeepsie Journal, 2007-11-30.
  36. Akon interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' December 2008
  37. Akon Preps New Album. Vibe.
  38. Sawjani, Archna. Akon: Real Talk, AllHipHop.com, 2007-08-06.
  39. " Akon intensywnie", INTERIA.PL, 2007-08-28.
  40. Winning, Brolin. " Akon – Got It Locked", MP3.com, 2006-10-23.
  41. Akon comes to region. All Africa Newswire, 2006-05-23.


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