Akon was born Aliaume Damal Badara Akon Thiam in St. Louis. As a child he would move back and forth between the US and Senegal until eventually settling in New Jersey for high school. He was influenced musically by his parents, his father being a percussionist and his mother a dancer. He learned how to play 5 different instruments and as a teenager began to pursuit a career in music.
He claims to have gone to jail for 2 years for grand theft auto and built much of his rap persona around the idea of being a convict hence the name “akon” (a convict). But it was later revealed that there were no records of Akon having gone to jail and that it was mainly a ploy by himself and record companies to build up a street tough rapper persona.
Akon was eventually discovered by Devyn Stevens who had helped to launch the careers of artists such as Usher and Alicia Keys and would release his debut album Trouble in 2004. Two singles off of the album titled “Lonely” and “Locked Up” would reach the top 10 on charts for both the US as well as the UK. After having this successful debut Akon started his own labels Konvict Muzik as well as Kon Live Distribution and would go on to record and release his second album Convicted. This album would be even more successful than the first debuting at number 2 on the charts and would end up going triple platinum.
Later in his career Akon has focused his efforts on charitable works in Africa mainly his non profit organization Akon Lighting Africa which he started in 2014. The aim is to provide solar energy for electricity to the more rural areas of Africa as well as street lamps and generators for homes and communities. This area is of emphasis to Akon seeing as how in Africa only 30% of people have access to electricity whereas 80% of people in the rest of the world have access to electricity. So far Akon Lighting Africa has helped to provide electricity in 15 different countries throughout Africa.
- “Akon.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
- Bronson, Fred. “Chart Beat.” Billboard. N.p., 5 Apr. 2007. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
- “Context – AKON LIGHTING AFRICA.” AKON LIGHTING AFRICA. Anon Lighting Africa, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2017.