Akon (born Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu
Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam), (born April 16,
1973) is a Senegalese-American R&B singer-songwriter, rapper,
record producer, and businessman.
According to Forbes Akon grossed $21 million in 2010, $20 million
in 2009 and $12 million in 2008. 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 credited
with over 300 guest appearances and 45 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.
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. Louis, Missouri, U.S., so that he
would not have to go through the immigration process. However, Akon
lived in Dakar, Senegal, splitting time between America and Senegal
until he was in high school, when he settled permanently in Newark,
Akon has claimed in interviews that his full name is Aliaune Damala
Akon Thiam and he is Muslim, he has never drunk alcohol or smoked
due to his faith, 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
In regards to his birth date, Akon is very protective of it, which
is the reason many media outlets have reported incorrect dates. However,
legal documents released by The Smoking Gun list Akon's name as Aliaune
Damala Thiam and his date of birth as April 16, 1973.
2003–05: Discovery and Trouble
Akon's alleged three years in jail saw him begin to recognize his
music abilities and develop an appreciation for his musical background.
Music mogul Devyne Stephens, president of Upfront Megatainment first
heard about Akon when the rapper Lil' Zane brought him along to Stephens'
rehearsal hall, a place that at the time saw talents such as Usher
and TLC being developed. The relationship between Stephens and
Akon began as a friendship and mentorship, with the young artist
regularly stopping by to ask for advice, but when Akon lost his deal
with Elektra Stephens signed him to his production company and began
grooming him professionally. The songs Akon recorded with
Stephens were brought to the attention of Universal's imprint SRC
Records. In an interview with HitQuarters SRC A&R Jerome
Foster said, "What caught my attention right away was "Lonely",
and I said, 'this kid is official - this is a huge record."
Foster and SRC CEO Steve Rifkind immediately boarded a private plane
to Atlanta to meet the young artist. Akon knew of Foster's work
as producer Knobody and so there was a mutual respect for one another
and the pair hit it off.
Akon's solo debut album, Trouble was released on June 29, 2004.
It spawned the singles "Locked Up" and "Lonely", "Belly
Dancer (Bananza)", "Pot Of Gold", and "Ghetto." 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. 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".
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 Jersey.
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
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.
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 6 countries, and charting at 5 on
the Billboard Hot 100 , it is featured on Guetta's One Love album.
Which has made it his 19th Top 20 hit worldwide.
It was announced in late 2009 that Akon's fourth studio album, Akonic,
was set for release in the first quarter of 2010. However, following
managerial commitments to other artists, work on the album has not
been completed. It was suggested that this would push the album's
release back to 2011. However, this was proven false as the album
will actually be released on November 29, 2010. Akon had also stated
that the title of the album may change between now and that time,
since originally it was titled "Stadium Music" or "Stadium".
Two tracks from the album have been leaked onto the web - "Nosy
Neighbour", which was suggested for the lead single, and "Party
Animal", both of which have been produced by David Guetta. The
album's lead single, "Angel", was released to US radio
stations on September 14, 2010. and was released as a single
on September 27, 2010.
* In 2006, Akon started his new record label Kon Live Distribution
under Interscope Records. His first signed artist was Ray Lavender.
* He was featured on Gwen Stefani's latest album, The Sweet Escape. He made
an appearance on the title track and second single, "The Sweet Escape." Akon
produced the song. On December 10, 2006, Akon and Stefani appeared as musical
guests on Saturday Night Live, however they did not perform the song as Stefani
had not yet learned the lyrics. He performed the song live, however, on American
Idol on March 28, 2007 due to Gwen Stefani's appearance as a coach the night
before. "The Sweet Escape" has reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
* Akon collaborated with Chamillionaire on his mixtape, Mixtape Messiah 2,
featuring on the track “Ridin' Overseas” which he also produced.
The mixtape was available for download on Chamillionaire's website from December
* In 2006, after their 2005 Akon-produced single, "Soul Survivor," the
duo of Akon and Young Jeezy said that there is a lot more to expect from them
in the future. The pair announced there are currently plans for a collaborative
* Akon also appeared on Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's album Strength and Loyalty and
Three 6 Mafia's eighth studio album, Last 2 Walk, We The Best by DJ Khaled,
Fabolous's album, From Nothin' to Somethin', with 50 Cent on some tracks for
Curtis, T.I.'s 5th album, T.I. vs. T.I.P., Mario's third solo album
Go!, and produced with Daddy Yankee" in the song called "Bring
It On" on the album called El Cartel: The Big Boss which was released
on June 5, 2007.
* On July 7, 2007 Akon performed at the American leg of Live Earth.
* In November 2007, Akon recorded a remix of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" with
Michael Jackson. In February 2008, the remix was released on the 25th anniversary
rerelease of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Akon produced the track entitled "Echo" on
Latin Boy band Menudo's latest album, released in the spring of 2008.
* ‘Konvict Music’ would be responsible for the re-release of Kat
Deluna’s debut album 9 Lives (album) which would feature Akon on the
single "Am I Dreaming."
* In July 2008 a song called "Hold My Hand" circulated the internet.
The song is an R&B duet/collaboration between Michael Jackson and Akon,
composed by Claude Kelly. There also exists another version featuring only
Akon. It was not included in the track list for Freedom as Akon previously
stated. During an interview with Tavis Smiley, Akon said that Jackson had planned
on a high-profile release including a music video until the track had leaked.
This is Jackson's last known song before he died on June 25, 2009. Recently,
Akon has finished work on the song and it will included on the upcoming posthumous
album, Michael. The song itself was released as a single on November 15, 2010.
* Akon was also the executive producer of Kardinal Offishall's fourth solo
album Not 4 Sale, released September 9, 2008. The promo single "Graveyard
Shift" features Akon as does the first single "Dangerous", which
peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and won the award for Single of the
Year at the 2009 Juno Awards.
* Akon co-wrote and recorded "Put It on My Tab" with New Kids on
the Block for their 2008 reunion album The Block.
* Akon co-wrote and produced Leona Lewis' hit record Forgive Me, off her debut
* He is currently working with X Factor 2008 winner Alexandra Burke on her
upcoming debut album.
* Akon co-wrote Kon Live artist Lady Gaga's worldwide hit "Just Dance",
which also featured Colby O'Donis, and which earned a Grammy nomination for
Best Dance Recording at the 51st Grammy Awards.
* Flo Rida’s new album R.O.O.T.S. features Akon on the track “Available”.
* Akon has recorded a song with E-40 titled "Wake It Up" for E-40's
album, The Ball Street Journal. Akon experiments with the auto-tune effect
in the song.
* Rap singer Nelly confirmed that Akon, Pharrell, and T-Pain have talked about
forming a rap supergroup in 2009.
* Akon and Konvict Muzik are also producing hip hop/rock group Flipsyde's 2009
release, State of Survival, which will be released via Kon Live Distribution
and Cherrytree Records.
* Akon worked with Whitney Houston for her 2009 comeback album I Look to You.
He appears on the track "Like I Never Left".
* In May 2009, Akon collaborated with Taiwanese artist ??? (Wilber Pan) and
released another version of the song, Be With You.
* Akon worked with bachata group Aventura and Reggaeton duo Wisin y Yandel
on All Up 2 You the second single from Aventura's album The Last that dropped
in June. The song received two nominations at the Premios Lo Nuestro 2010 for "Urban
Song of the Year" and "Video Collaboration of the Year".
* Akon recently signed Jayko, a Hispanic R&B and Reggaeton artist, to his
label and is working with him on his debut album titled "Marcando Territorio"
* Sexy Bitch was released in July 2009, a collaboration with French DJ David
* In August 2009, Akon released another version of Beautiful featuring BoA,
a popular and legendary Korean singer. However, this version was for the Japanese
* Akon also sang in a song with Colby O'Donis called "What You Got".
* In 2009 Akon collaborated with Pitbull on the single "Shut It Down" from
the album "Rebelution".
* Akon worked to help Matisyahu remix his single "One Day" on his
* In 2010 Akon collaborated with up and coming pop singer JRandall on a song
entitled oo la la" which premiered on JustJared.com on October 6.
* In 2010 he is one of over 70 artists singing on "We Are the World: 25
for Haiti", a charity single in aid of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. He also
entered into the Indian market, working with composers Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar
Ravjiani on the soundtrack to the Bollywood action film Ra.One.
* Akon co-produced Natalia Kills' first single, Mirrors, from her forthcoming
debut album, Perfectionist.
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. On January 27, 2010, Akon performed on the Brazilian reality
show Big Brother Brasil.
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.
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 believe in conflict diamonds.
That's just a movie. Think about it. Nobody thought or cared about
conflict diamonds until 'Blood Diamond' was released." 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
"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.
In April 2007, Akon drew criticism for an onstage act which included
simulated sex with Danah (Deena) Alleyne, a preacher's daughter aged
15 at the time, at a club in Trinidad and Tobago, 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
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 WSPK's KFEST concert at the Dutchess Stadium
in Fishkill, New York, 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
March 23, 2010 – Considering the allegations against the singer
Akon, the Sri Lankan Government has decided not to issue him a visa
to enter into Sri Lanka, the Government Information Department said
a short while ago. The Jathika Bhikku Sansadaya (National Monks'
Association) earlier today said that they vehemently protested the
planned concert of Akon claiming that his music video insulted Buddhism.
Main article: Akon discography
* Trouble (2004)
* Konvicted (2006)
* Freedom (2008)
* Akonic (2011)
Awards and nominations
Akon awards and nominations
[hide]Awards and nominations
Award Wins Nominations
American Music Awards
MTV Video Music Awards
Awards won 1
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.
Year Nominated work Award Result
2007 Akon Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist Won
Artist of the Year Nominated
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist Nominated
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of
Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Akon has received
Year Nominated work Award Result
2007 "Smack That" (with Eminem) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
2008 "The Sweet Escape" (with Gwen Stefani) Best Pop Collaboration
with Vocals Nominated
Bartender" (with T-Pain) Best R&B Vocal Performance by a
Duo or Group Nominated
Konvicted Best Contemporary R&B Album Nominated
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. Akon
has the record for most nominations in the Most Earthshattering Collaboration
Year Nominated work Award Result
2005 "Locked Up" MTV2 Award Nominated
2007 Akon Male Artist of the Year Nominated
Smack That" (with Eminem) Most Earthshattering Collaboration
The Sweet Escape" (with Gwen Stefani) Most Earthshattering Collaboration
World Music Awards
In 2007 Akon won three World Music Awards:
* (1) Best Selling R&B Male Artist
* (2) Best Selling African Artist
* (3) Best Selling Internet Artist.
In 2008 Akon won:
* (1) Best Selling African Artist
Note: Akon also won Artist Of The Year in 2007 by the Billboard
Made the Top Artists of the Year Chart in: 2009
Made the Billboard 200 Albums of the Year Chart in: 2009, 2007,
Made the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Year Chart in: 2005, 2004
Premios Lo Nuestro
Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 "All Up 2 You" (with Aventura and Wisin & Yandel)
Urban Song of the Year Nominated
All Up 2 You" (with Aventura and Wisin & Yandel) Video Collaboration
of the Year Nominated
* Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania One-off Concert (2006).
* Konvicted Tour (July to September 2007, then additional dates in 2008)
* The Sweet Escape Tour with Gwen Stefani (April to July 2007)
* The Good Girl Gone Bad Tour with Rihanna (Canadian-leg only, September – December
* Konvict Muzik Tour with T-Pain, Australia only, October 26–27, 2009.
* Brazilian Mini-Tour, (Brazil, January 2010)