Aliaune Damala Dakha Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, often going by the shorter Aliaune Thiam, is best known by his fans simply as Akon. Born on April 16, 1973 to a jazz musician Mor Thiam whose expertise for playing the Djembe, a traditional African drum, has been touted as “unrivaled,” he was grateful for his family musical background that later on did helpful in paving the way for him to embark on a musical career and gain success in the industry, making him one of the icons in the 21st century. Born in St. Louis, Akon grew up in Senegal before he and his family returned to the United States and settled in New Jersey when he was seven. While in Jersey City, he discovered hip-hop for the first time by the time he started hanging around with local thugs crowd. Initially attended Snyder High School, the boy did everything against the school regulation and was kicked out after busted for selling guns, bullet and test questions for every test. He later on attended the Bayonne High School though. Hanging with the group, Akon also became popular for his bravery in fighting and was jailed for armed robbery and drug distribution charges. In between time, he used his time to begin writing his own songs.
Being brought up in an environment that treasures the true artistic value of musicianship and revels in the mastering of instrumental skill, it was Akon’s deep rooted love and passion for music that later on encouraged him to record tracks in a home studio upon being freed from behind bars. The tapes found their way to SRC/Universal which eventually released Akon’s debut LP “Trouble” in June 2004. It was this set that catapulted him to international stardom, thanks to the hit single “Locked Up,” written based on his experience of serving a three-year jail sentence for grand theft auto, that brought him a Six shot Award for Best Single of 2004, shared with rapper Style P. The other hit singles spawned by the album include “Lonely,” which was actually Bobby Vinton‘s old track entitled “Mr. Lonely,” that successfully topped the UK charts in 2005, “Belly Dancer (Bananza),” “Pot Of Gold,” and “Ghetto”. “TROUBLE evolved from the struggles I went through and what I did and am still doing to correct those things,” Akon said about his debut album.
In 2005, Akon gained more popularity after being featured in Young Jeezy’s debut album, “let’s get it, Thug Motivation, on the song “Soul Survivor” which became a top five hit on the Billboard Hot 100. In perhaps the best effort he had, sophomore album “Konvicted” that was released on November 14, 2006, raised his fame meter even higher, made it enough for him to be considered one of the prominent musicians at that time. Its first single “Smack That,” featured Eminem in the rapping, shot to #2 in Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed on the post for five consecutive weeks. “I Wanna Love You”, the second single off “Konvicted,” was released in September the same year. Featured a collaboration with Snoop Doggy, this single topped the U.S. charts for two consecutive weeks, earned Akon’s his first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and Snoop’s second. The first two songs may be lifted due to the collaboration, but Akon proved that his solo effort “Don’t Matter” could also reign at #1. Akon, indeed, reached the highest peak of his career with his being nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at 49th Annual Grammy Awards for “Smack That.” Unfortunately, he lost to Justin Timberlake/T.I. collaboration in “My Love.”
While thriving with his solo career, Akon was also noted for his collaboration with Gwen Stefani in her hit “The Sweet Escape.” Before touring as a solo, he jumped in Gwen’s Sweet Escape Tour in the first half of 2007. At one point, unfortunately, Akon was heavily criticized after performing racy dance with an underage girl during a concert in Tobago. Claimed to have no idea for the girls’ age that manipulated the venue, a nightclub only allowing 18 years and above, he took the “blame” anyway and wrote a song “Sorry, Blame It on Me,” released it in August 2007 and shot its music video at the same time. Since the song was created after “Konvicted” has hit the street, a special edition of the album was made with the inclusion of “Sorry, Blame It on Me.” Titled “Konvicted”, the set was released on August 28 the same year and covered in it the song “Rush,” featured Kardinal Oficial, which appeared in the blockbuster movie “Rush Hour 3” (2007).
On June 3, 2007 Akon was performing on stage during a concert at radio station WSPK’s KFEST in Fishkill, N.Y. when someone in the crowd of concert goers suddenly threw an object at the stage in his direction. He then asked the crowd to point out the individual who did that and ordered security to bring the audience member on stage. Once the attendee, a 15-year-old boy, was on stage, Akon tossed him back into the crowd from his shoulders. Video of the incident was reviewed by Fishkill police who at last decided to charge him with misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a minor and second-degree harassment. A December 3 arraignment, nevertheless, saw Akon being pleaded not guilty to both charges, much to his delight.