Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, often going by the shorter Aliaune Thiam (born 14 October 1981 in St. Louis, Missouri; raised in Dakar, Senegal), and better known by stage name Akon, is a Grammy Award-nominated Senegalese hip-hop and R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and record executive. He is the founder of both Konvict Music and Kon Live Distribution. Other sources have his name as Alioune Badara Thiam.
Akon is the son of jazz percussionist Mor Thiam. He grew up in Senegal until he was seven, split time between Senegal and the U.S. until he was fifteen, then his family permantently moved to Jersey City, New Jersey and as such he speaks English, French, and Wolof. In Jersey City he attended Snyder High School, where he discovered hip hop music. His first song was entitled "Operations of Nature," which he recorded at age 15. However, he was jailed for armed robbery and drug distribution charges, and used his time in prison to work on his music. 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. The album is a hybrid of Akon's silky, West African-styled vocals mixed with East Coast and Southern beats.
His manager Robert Montanez was shot to death following a dispute in New Jersey in December 2005. "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" , 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 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. Akon served a three-year jail sentence for grand theft auto, an experience that inspired his Locked Up.
Akon's sophomore album, entitled Konvicted, was released on November 14, 2006. Konvicted included collaborations with Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Styles P. Late August 2006, Akon released the single "Smack That" featuring Eminem, from the album. This single peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for five weeks. The music video for "Smack That" was directed by Raymond Garced. "I Wanna Love You", the second single off Konvicted, was released in September 2006. It is a collaboration between Akon and Snoop Dogg. This single earned 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, Akon released his third single "Don't Matter" which so far has reached five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Konvicted debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 285,000 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. Konvicted has continued to stay in the top twenty of the Billboard 200 after 14 weeks, and it peaked on three consecutive weeks, not including its debut. Currently it has sold more than 1.5 million records in the U.S. and 2.2 million worldwide.
On the week of October 5, 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 number seven. The song's monstrous leap is fueled by its number six debut on Hot Digital Songs with 67,000 downloads sold.
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.
In December 2006, Akon's "Smack That" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.
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". The song was produced by him. On December 10, 2006 both 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. "The Sweet Escape" has reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Akon collaborated with Chamillionaire on his latest mixtape entitled, Mixtape Messiah 2. He is featured on "Ridin' Overseas", which Akon also produced. The mixtape became available for download on Chamillionaire's website as of December 24, 2006.
There is a strong rumor going around that a collaborative album between Akon and Young Jeezy is in the works. It may be released later this year or possibly next year. After their 2005 Akon-produced single, "Soul Survivor", the duo says that there is a lot more to expect from them in the future. 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 is set to embark on a world tour in 2007. Starting in Africa, he'll swing through Europe and then segue 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 strong rumors that he'll be collaborating with Michael Jackson, Akon just laughed, saying only, "Right now that's in the air. I can't talk about it." He offers up the same laugh and vague response when queried about working on Elton John's next album. Akon was also effusive about another upcoming collaboration: 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. He is also rumoured to be featured on the second single as well, which is "Never Forget Me". The album will be released on April 17, 2007.
Not for Sale, Kardinal Offishall's fourth solo album, and his first as a member of Konvict Muzik, is scheduled for release in early 2007. The Toronto-based rapper's album will feature established artists such as Lil' Wayne, De La Soul, Clipse, Rihanna and Stat Quo. It is confirmed that Akon will be the executive producer of 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 schelduled to be released during the third quarter of 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.
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