Akon is a Senegalese-American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and businessman. He is of Senegalese descent. He came into prominence in 2004, after the release of his song ‘Locked Up' from his debut album ‘Trouble.' Born in an African musician's family, he has always been grateful to his family's musical background as it paved the way for his success in the American music industry. He attended high school in New Jersey, United States, from where he was expelled for breaking the school rules. In Jersey City, Akon got familiar with hip-hop while roaming around the city with local rowdies. He became popular in the group for his bravery and fighting skills. He was even jailed multiple times for robbery and drug distribution. In spite of his provocative behavior and rough lifestyle, he found time to write his own songs. It was his passion and deep love for music that allowed him to turn his life around. After starting his music career by playing different kinds of percussion instruments, he eventually developed an interest in hip-hop music and culture. Over the course of his career, he has received several awards for his albums. He has also delivered several hits by working in collaboration with world-famous musicians like Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie.
Early Life & Education
Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, the son of dancer Kine Gueye Thiam (mother) and traditional jazz musician Mor Thiam (father), was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 16, 1973. He has a brother named Abou Thiam.
Soon after he was born, his parents relocated to Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, where they remained for 7 years. The couple relocated to Jersey City with their family after returning to the country. His parents left him with his older brother in Jersey City when he started high school and went to Atlanta, Georgia, with the rest of the family.
Akon was an unruly teen who frequently flouted the rules of the classroom. He struggled with other kids and eventually began hanging around with the local rowdies. He grew up with strong enthusiasm and a love for music because of the musical impact of his family. During his formative years, he mastered the guitar, drums, djembe, and five other instruments.
He began by recording music at home. In the meanwhile, he grew close to Wyclef Jean of the Fugees. Akon finally inked his record deal in 2003.
With the release of his debut album ‘Trouble' in June 2004, Akon's life turned around as he became an international star almost instantly. The album was a huge success and produced multiple hit singles like ‘Locked Up,' ‘Bananza (Belly Dance),' ‘Ghetto,' and ‘Lonely.'
After the success of his first album, he started his own labels, namely ‘Kon Live Distribution' and ‘Konvict Muzic.' He released his second album ‘Konvicted' in November 2006, through his own label.
‘Konvicted' increased his popularity as it housed several hit singles. The album broke several records by winning multiple platinum certificates. The album featured guest appearances by famous artists; Eminem was featured in the single ‘Smack That' and Snoop Dogg in ‘I Wanna Love You.'
His third album ‘Freedom' came out in 2008. The album spawned four singles: ‘Right Now -Na Na Na,' ‘I'm So Paid,' ‘Beautiful,' and ‘We Don't Care.' The album was certified platinum in the United States.
Akon has collaborated with famous music artists like Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, and Gwen Stefani. He co-wrote Lady Gaga's famous song ‘Just Dance.'
He also sang a duet titled ‘Hold My Hand' with the legendary pop-star Michael Jackson. The song was released after Jackson's death in 2009. Besides this, he also worked with the famous house music icon David Guetta in his song ‘Sexy Bitch.'
Akon sang a song titled ‘Chammak Challo' for the soundtrack of a Hindi movie titled ‘Ra.One,' which featured Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor. For the song, he collaborated with the famous Indian music director duo Vishal-Shekhar in 2011.
Besides having great singing skills, Akon has also made a name for himself in the field of acting. He made his acting debut in 2012, in a Nigerian-American film named ‘Black November.' He also worked with Hayden Christensen and Adrien Brody in the action movie ‘American Heist,' which released in 2014.
In 2015, Akon released his fourth album ‘Stadium.' The album was also released in five different genres (euro, pop, urban, island, and world) in late 2015, and early 2016. In April 2016, along with Taiwanese singer Jeff Chang, he appeared in the Chinese reality TV show ‘I Am a Singer.'
In 2019, he released his first Latin single ‘Get Money,' featuring Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA. The same year, he also released ‘Cómo No,' featuring Mexican-American singer Becky G.
His success is not limited to film and music industry. Over the years, he has also become a very successful businessman. He has a number of real estate investments along with the possession of two famous clothing lines, namely ‘Aliaune' and ‘Konvict.'
He is also the founder of ‘Konfidence Foundation.' The foundation's main motive is to empower disadvantaged youth in Africa and the US.
Awards & Achievements
Akon received the “Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist” honor at the “American Music Awards” in 2007. At the “Billboard Music Awards,” he also took home the “Artist of the Year” honor. He received the “Teen Choice Award” for “Breakout Artist – Male” that same year.
He received the “BET Hip Hop Award” for “Producer of the Year” in 2008.
He received the “Ozone” award in 2009 for “Artist of the Year (USA & UK).”
In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, he received “ASCAP Awards” in various categories.
Akon‘s net worth is estimated to be US$80 million. This wealth is gotten from his music career, endorsements and businesses.
- Facebook: @/AKON/
- Twitter: @Akon
- Instagram: @Akon