With his unique blend of West African musical influences, Southern beats and East Coast inflections along with a dazzling presence that attracts those who watch music videos by the singer, Akon has gone from an unknown alleged convict to a music star in just a few short years.
Born to Mor Thiam, a jazz percussionist, and his wife, in St. Louis, Akon was raised in Senegal until the age of seven. At that point, his father returned to the US and brought the family with him. Until he was 15, Akon spent time in both countries.
Despite Akon's insistence that he has a criminal past where he was involved in drug dealing, car theft and spent several years in prison (where he apparently discovered his musical talents), there is no evidence to support his claims. In fact, it would appear that Akon has a squeaky clean past, according to criminal and court records. However, the artist sticks to his story that he spent time in prison after moving to New Jersey with his family.
In 2004, his solo album debut, Trouble, was released. It prompted several singles, including the hit "Ghetto" which was released by his own record company, Konvict Music. A year later, he turned out the song "Lonely", which took him to the top five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list, as well as maxing out the charts in several countries, including the UK and Germany. The young singer was becoming a star.
In 2005, the first of several music videos was nominated for an award, "Locked Up", which drew people to download music videos by the relatively new music artist. That same year, his manager was shot and killed in New Jersey during an altercation.
Akon began to collaborate on albums and music videos of popular rappers and singers, including Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dog, Eminem and Young Jeezy. He also released his second album, Konvicted, in 2006, and it debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100, getting off to a great start.
Interesting Akon Trivia
His real name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, though this is usually shortened to Aliaune Badara Thiam or Aliaune Damala Thiam.
Akon is Muslim and because of this, he has never tasted alcohol or tried a cigarette. He is also rumored to have 3 wives, which is allowed by his religion, but the only thing we know for sure is that he admits to having children with three different women.
The singer is surrounded by mystery and he likes it that way. Even his birth date is unverified and in interviews, Akon has refused to clarify, preferring that no one know his true age. The most widely accepted year of birth is 1873, but he has also been said to have been born in 1981.
Akon is the owner of a diamond mine in Africa. Ask him about the infamous "blood diamonds" and he'll respond that there is no such thing and it was only a movie.
He also runs the Konfidence Foundation, an organization to help underpriveledged children in Africa.
The singer was the first solo artist ever to hold the first AND second spots on the Billboard Hot 100 list and he accomplished this feat not once, but twice.
Akon has made music videos with both Eminem and Gwen Stefani.
His music videos have been nominated 4 times for the MTV Video Music Awards, two of which were solos.
The young singer has taken his unique origins and natural born talent and turned them into something people are clamoring for. His music is already a huge success and his collaborations are taking Akon even higher.
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