Kate's Notes

Wednesday, March 14, 2007



Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, often going by the shorter Aliaune Thiam (born 14 October 1981), internationally known as simply Akon, earned a world wide fanbase with his hit single, “Smack That,” in 2006, featuring Eminem. The song stayed at #2 on the Billboard 100 for five consecutive weeks. Originally from Senegal and splitting his time between Africa and the United States as a child, this former drug dealer and prison inmate has turned his life around to become a Grammy Award-nominated hip-hop and R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer, actor and record executive. He is the founder of both Konvict Muzik and Kon Live Distribution.

Releasing three albums to date and collaberating with dozens of A-list recording artists, including Dr. Dre, Timbaland, and Whitney Houston, his music combines west African-styled vocals mixed with East Coast and Southern beats.

Early Life

The son of a jazz percussionist, Mor Thiam, Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in Dakar, Senegal, until he was seven years old. His family then moved to the United States in order to receive a better education for the children; after which, Akon split his time between Senegal and the United States. When he was 15 his family permanently moved to Jersey City, New Jersey.

Akon speaks English, French, and Wolof and attended Snyder High School in New Jersey, where he discovered is love for hip hop music. His first song was entitled "Operations of Nature," which he recorded at age 15. However, before he could get a recording career off the ground, he was jailed for armed robbery and drug distribution charges. He used his time in prison to work on music, and upon release, 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.

Trouble: 2004 – 2005

Akon's solo debut album, Trouble, described as a hybrid of Akon's silky, West African-styled vocals mixed with East Coast and Southern beats, was released on June 29, 2004. It spawned the hit singles "Locked Up" and "Lonely," as well as "Belly Dancer (Bananza)," "Pot Of Gold," and "Ghetto." "Locked Up" was inspired by his three-year jail sentence for grand theft auto, and reached the top 10 in the United States and the top five in the United Kingdom. Sadly, his manager at the time of Trouble’s release, Robert Montanez, was shot to death following a dispute in New Jersey in December 2005. Akon was also in the car and was shot in the shoulder; however he made a full recovery.

The single, "Ghetto" became a radio hit when it was remixed to include verses from legendary 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 United States and Germany. His album also climbed to number one in the United Kingdom 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 for over 15 weeks.

In 2005, Akon gained more popularity after being featured on Young Jeezy's debut album, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, on the song "Soul Survivor," which became a top five hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Konvicted: 2006 – 2007

Akon's sophomore album, Konvicted, was released on November 14, 2006, and included collaborations with Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Styles P. The album was dedicated to his late manager, Robert Montanez and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 286,000 copies in its first week. After only five weeks, Konvicted sold more than one million records in the United States and more than 1.3 million worldwide.

Before its official release, however, in late August 2006, Akon released the single "Smack That" which featured Eminem, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks; the single was accompanied by a music video directed by Raymond Garced. On the week of October 5, of that same year, Akon broke a record on the Hot 100, when he achieved the largest climb in the chart's 48-year-history with "Smack That," jumping from number 95 to number seven. The song's monstrous leap is fueled by its number six debut on Hot Digital Songs with approximately 67,000 downloads sold. In December 2006, Akon's "Smack That" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.

Akon collaborated with Snoop Dogg for the second single off of Konvicted, "I Wanna Love You," which was released in September 2006. “I Wanna Love You” earned Akon his first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and Snoop Dogg’s second; it topped the United States charts for two consecutive weeks.

In January 2007, Akon released his third single, "Don't Matter," which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks.

Konvicted has continued to stay in the top twenty of the Billboard 200 after 16 weeks, where it peaked at number two on four different occasions. It has sold more than 1.7 million records in the United States and 2.4 million worldwide.

In 2006, Akon started his new record label Kon Live Distribution under Interscope Records. The first artist to sign was Chilli from TLC. Her debut solo album, Point of View, will be released under Kon Live. Earl Ray has also been signed to the label.

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," which was produced by him. On December 10, 2006, both Akon and Stefani appeared as musical guests on “Saturday Night Live"; however, the song was not performed because Stefani was not yet completely familiar with the lyrics. "The Sweet Escape" went on to reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Upcoming Projects and Collaborations

There has been some news of a collaborative album between Akon and Young Jeezy, in later 2007 or 2008. After their 2005 Akon-produced single, "Soul Survivor, the duo says that there should be more to expect from them in the future; and Jeezy has stated that the album will be somewhat similar to Jay-Z and R. Kelly's, The Best of Both Worlds or Unfinished Business collaborative albums.

Akon has also collaborated with Chamillionaire on his latest endeavor entitled, Mixtape Messiah 2. He is featured on "Ridin' Overseas," which Akon also produced. The Mixtape Messiah 2 became available for download on Chamillionaire's website on December 24, 2006.

Akon is set to embark on a world tour in 2007. Starting in Africa, he plans on touring through Europe and then over to the United States. There is no word yet on supporting acts, but Akon told Billboard.com, "We'll probably get the hottest act in whatever region we're in." When asked about the rumors of an upcoming collaboration with Michael Jackson, Akon laughed, saying only, “Right now that's in the air. I can't talk about it.” There has also been some talk of Akon working with Elton John; however, those too are unsubstantiated rumors.

Akon was also effusive about another upcoming collaboration with Whitney Houston. "I'm working on more uptempo records for her," he says. "She's been through a lot and has a dark history. So we've got to make the album brighter because she's come out of the cave now. She wants a celebration. She needs to come back to the old Whitney we remember."

Akon is rumored to make an appearance on Papoose's major label debut album, The Nacirema Dream. Currently the track, "Go to War (Ghetto Soldier)" on which Akon is featured, is tentative. The Nacirema Dream is slated to be released March 2007.

Akon is scheduled to appear on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's upcoming album Strength and Loyalty. He will be featured on the album's lead single entitled "I Tried," which will be released in February, 2007. The album itself will be released on April 17, 2007.

Akon will be the executive producer on his first member of Konvict Muzik, Kardinal Offishall’s fourth solo album, Not for Sale; it is scheduled for release in early 2007. Kardinal Offishall’s album will feature established artists such as Lil' Wayne, De La Soul, Clipse, Rihanna and Stat Quo.

He is also expected to make guest appearances on Three 6 Mafia's eighth studio album, Da Last 2 Walk in addition to appearances from T.I., Paul Wall, Lil' Scrappy, Young Buck and more. The album will be released in the spring of 2007.

In addition, recording artist, T.I.'s, 5th album, T.I. vs. T.I.P., is scheduled for release in the summer of 2007. It will boast production from high profile producers such as Dr. Dre, Eminem, Lil Jon, Just Blaze, Timbaland, as well as Akon. Akon is also expected to make a guest appearance on the album.

We The Best is the upcoming sophomore album from DJ Khaled, scheduled for release in the summer of 2007. The lead single, "We Takin' Over" will feature T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Lil Wayne and Birdman as well as Akon.

Akon is rumoured to be featured on Juvenile's upcoming album, entitled Diary of a Soulja. "The Verdict" and "I'm So Fly" are two tracks that Akon is featured on and may make the album. The album is scheduled to be released during the third quarter of 2007.

Epiphany, the sophomore album by T-Pain will be executively produced by Akon. The album is expected to be released sometime 2007.

Upcoming Aftermath rapper, G.A.G.E. will release his debut solo album, The Soundtrack To My Life sometime in 2007 and is expected to feature production from Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, Cool & Dre and others. The album can expect to have appearances from Akon, Busta Rhymes, The Game, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, T.I., and many more.

Acting Opportunities

Akon is also planning to work on a full-length movie about his life. The title has been confirmed as Illegal Alien, and the release date is unknown at the time.

He was also featured on a Verizon Wireless commercial.


In February 2007, Akon's clothing line, “Konvict Clothing,” will launch. It features urban street wear including denim jeans, hoodies, t-shirts and hats. It also has an upscale version called “Aliaune,” which will feature high-end clothes, including blazers and expensive denim for both men and women.

Personal Life

He is a Muslim, and is a believer and practitioner of Polygamy; this topic has caused some amount of controversy when he first disclosed it on a radio program: "I really don’t bite my tongue for anybody and I always felt like if you’re going to be real, you got to be truthful all the way around the board. Lies only make things worse. But it got to a point where my coming out like that ended up being a mistake."

He fears not of being a spectacle, however, and drives an orange Lamborghini Gallardo. He also has expressed his unexpected love for Phil Collins: "I love Phil Collins. 'In The Air Tonight' is an incredible song. I hope to work with Phil. He's got an amazing vocal tone. His vocal tone makes me cry."

Akon also owns a diamond mine in South Africa and denies the existence of conflict diamonds, noting in an interview with the British Independent, "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."

Although he had a previous occupation as a drug dealer, he states that he has never used drugs. He also states that in spite of his previous criminal history he has turned his life around; this is explored in his song, "Tired Of Runnin'."

Charity Work and Activism

Akon has his own charity for underprivileged children in Africa called United For Africa.


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