Born In: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
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 musicians’ 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 behaviour 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 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.
Also Known As: Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam
Spouse/Ex-: Tomeka Akon
father: Mor Thiam
mother: Kine Gueye Thiam
siblings: Abou Thiam
Born Country: United States
Ancestry: Senegalese American
Notable Alumni: Clark Atlanta University, William L. Dickinson High School
City: St. Louis, Missouri
Founder/Co-Founder: Konvict Muzik, KonLive Distribution
education: Clark Atlanta University, William L. Dickinson High School
Akon was born Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam on April 16, 1973, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, to Mor Thiam, a traditional jazz musician, and Kine Thiam, a dancer.
His parents moved to their hometown Dakar, Senegal, West Africa soon after Akon was born and lived there for seven years. The couple, along with their family, moved back to the United States and settled down in Jersey City.
When he started attending high school, his parents left him with his elder brother in Jersey City and moved to Atlanta, Georgia with the rest of the family.
Akon was a naughty and mischievous teen who often broke the school rules. He did not get along with other children easily and eventually started hanging around with the local rowdies.
Thanks to the musical influence of his family, Akon developed a great passion and love for music at an early age. He learned to play five musical instruments during his childhood, including guitar, drums, and djembe.
Despite hanging around with lawbreakers in New Jersey, his love and passion for music helped him to get back on track. He began to sing and perform as a teenager.
Later, he attended ‘Clark Atlanta University’ in Atlanta, Georgia, which he left after the first semester. After leaving the university, he started focusing solely on music.
He started by making home recordings. In the meantime, he became good friends with Wyclef Jean of ‘Fugees.’ In 2003, Akon finally signed a record deal of his own.
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.’
He released a collaborative mixtape titled ‘Konvict Kartel Vol. 2’ in late 2017.
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.
‘Trouble,’ the solo debut album of Akon which spawned five singles, became a huge hit. It released on June 29, 2004. In April 2005, the album topped the charts in the UK. The song ‘Locked Up’ from the album got eighth and fifth position in the US and UK respectively. ‘Lonely’ peaked at the fifth spot on the ‘Billboard Hot 100,’ and became number one in Australia, Germany, and the UK.
His second album ‘Konvicted’ released in November 2006. It peaked at number two on the ‘Billboard 200’ on four different occasions, selling 286,000 copies in the first week itself. For 28 consecutive weeks, the album stayed in the top 20 list.
The third album ‘Freedom’ released on December 2, 2008. It spawned four singles and was certified platinum in the US after selling millions of copies all over the world.
He was also the co-writer for Lady Gaga's hit number ‘Just Dance.’ The song was a huge success and earned her ‘Grammy Award’ nomination for ‘Best Dance Recording’ at the 51st ‘Grammy Awards.’
The song ‘Sexy Bitch,’ sung by David Guetta and Akon, topped in more than six countries. It peaked at number five on the ‘Billboard Hot 100.’
In 2007, Akon won the 'Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist' award at the ‘American Music Awards.’ He also won the 'Artist of the Year' award at ‘Billboard Music Awards.’ In the same year, he won ‘Teen Choice Award’ under the 'Breakout Artist - Male' category.
In 2008, he won ‘BET Hip Hop Award’ under the ‘Producer of the Year’ category.
In 2009, he won ‘Ozone’ for ‘Artist of the Year (USA & UK).’
He has won ‘ASCAP Awards’ under different categories in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Akon has always kept his family far away from the paparazzi. He claims to have six children with three different women. He runs an organization named ‘Konfidence’ for underprivileged children and also owns a diamond mine in South Africa.
He has been involved in a number of controversies, facing numerous legal issues. He is believed to have served three years in prison from 1999 to 2002 for his association with a car theft ring.
During a concert in 2007, Akon threw a 15-year-old boy off the stage for which he faced criminal charges. In April 2007, he faced criticism for his inappropriate sexual behavior with a teenage girl at a club in Trinidad and Tobago.
Akon received some media coverage in 2018 for his "serious consideration" running for the office of the president in the 2020 US election.
He runs several charity homes. He founded ‘Akon Lighting Africa’ in 2015 with the aim of providing electricity to 14 African countries.
He wrote and released an apology song titled ‘Sorry, Blame It on Me’ after he was criticized for engaging in a sexually provocative dance with an underage girl in a nightclub.
He plays several musical instruments and has been a fan of Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, and Tracy Chapman since his childhood.