Aliaune Thiam (born April 16, 1977), better known by his stage
name Akon, is a American hip hop singer-songwriter, and record producer, of
Senegalese origin. He rose to prominence in 2004 following the release of
"Locked Up” the first single from his debut album Trouble. His second album,
Konvicted, earned him a Grammy Award nomination for the single "Smack That."
He has since founded two record labels, Konvict Muzik and Kon Live
Akon often sings hooks for other artists and is currently accredited with over 155 guest appearances and 23 Billboard Hot 100 songs. He is the first solo artist to accomplish the feat of holding both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice.
Akon’s full name is, Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam. However he is often credited as Aliaune Thiam. His name is sometimes shortened as Aliaune Badara Thiam or Alioune Badara Thiam. About.com claims that this middle name has never been independently verified. In addition, some media institutions have incorrectly reported that he was born in 1981. Sources such as the AP have indicated he was born in 1973. Legal documents released by The Smoking Gun list his name as Aliaune Damala Thiam and date of birth as 1973-04-3 or 1973-04-16. According to the Smoking Gun article, "By all indications, he was born April 16, 1973." When asked his age during an interview with VIBE, Akon reportedly responded, "The only thing I hide is my age... before I lie to you, I'd rather say nothing." It has since been confirmed that his birth certificate says he was born in 1977.
As the son of famed Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam, Akon was raised in a musical setting and taught to play several instruments. At the age of 7, he spent time between America and Senegal until he was 15, then he moved permanently to Jersey City, New Jersey. He recorded his first song, "Operations of Nature", at the age of fifteen.
During Akon’s alleged time in jail for 12 years, he began to understand his music abilities and developed an appreciation for his musical background. Akon's unique blend of West African-style, skills and moves eventually caught the ears of executives at Universal. Akon began writing and recording tracks in his home studio. The tapes found their way to SRC/Universal, which released Akon's debut LP Trouble in June 2004. The album is a hybrid of Akon's silky, West African-styled vocals mixed with East Coast and Southern beats. Most of Akon's songs begin with the sound of the clank of a jail cell's door with him uttering the word "Konvict".
Akon is a Muslim, as he explains he has never drunk alcohol or smoked due to his faith. He has also been rumored to have three wives, however the actual figure is unknown. He claims to have five children with three different women in an interview with Blender.
He also has his own charity for underprivileged children in Africa called Konfidence Foundation. Akon owns a diamond mine in South Africa and denies the existence of conflict diamonds (Otherwise casually referred to as 'blood diamonds'), saying, "I don't even believe in conflict diamonds. That's just a movie. Think about it. Ain't nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out." He also allegedly had a previous occupation as a drug dealer but has stated in interviews that he's never used drugs, though some of his lyrics would suggest otherwise. Despite his alleged criminal history, he proclaims that he has turned his life around.
Akon's solo debut album, Trouble was released on June 29, 2004. It spawned the singles "Locked Up" and "Lonely", "Belly Dancer (Bananza)", "Pot Of Gold", and "Ghetto." The album was the first release of his new record label Konvict Music. The inspiration for his debut single allegedly came from his three-year sting in prison for ‘grand theft auto’. "Locked Up" reached the top 10 in the U.S. and the top five in the UK. "Ghetto" became a radio hit when it was remixed by Green Lantern to include verses from legendary rappers 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.
In 2005, he released the single "Lonely" (which samples Bobby Vinton's "Mr. Lonely"). The song reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, and topped the charts in Australia, the UK and Germany. His album also climbed to number one in the UK in April, 2005. When music channel The Box had a top ten weekly chart, which was calculated by the amount of video requests, Akon's "Lonely" became the longest running single on the top of the chart, spanning over fifteen weeks. Akon then released another single featuring with a New Zealand rapper, Savage with the single Moonshine, which had become a success in both New Zealand and Australia, becoming number one in the New Zealand charts. In 2005, He made his first critically acclaimed guest appearance on Young Jeezy's debut album, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, with the song "Soul Survivor." In December the same year his manager, Robert Montanez was killed in a shooting after a dispute in New Jersey.
Akon's second album, Konvicted was released on November 14, 2006. It included collaborations with Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Styles P. The first single "Smack That" featuring Eminem was released in August 2006 and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. "I Wanna Love You," (featuring Snoop Dogg) was the second single released in September, it would go on to earn Akon his first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and Snoop's second. "I Wanna Love You" topped the U.S. charts for two consecutive weeks. In January 2007, a third single "Don't Matter" which earned him his first solo number one and second consecutive Hot 100 chart topper was released. "Mama Africa" was released as a European single in July 2007, making it the fourth overall single from the album reaching just 47 in the UK.
To coincide with the release of the Platinum (deluxe) edition of the album "Sorry, Blame It on Me" was the album's fifth single, debuted in August 2007 on the Hot 100 at number seven. The deluxe version was fully released on August 28, 2007. The final single was confirmed by Akon to be "Never Took the Time." Konvicted debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 286,000 copies in its first week. After only six weeks, Konvicted sold more than one million records in the U.S. and more than 1.3 million worldwide. The album was certified platinum after seven weeks, and after sixteen weeks it was certified double platinum. It stayed in the top twenty of the Billboard 200 for 28 consecutive weeks and peaked at number two on four different occasions. On November 20, 2007, the RIAA certified the album ‘triple platinum’ with 3 million units sold in the US. It has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.
On October 5, 2006, Akon broke a record on the Hot 100, as he achieved the largest climb in the chart's 48-year-history with "Smack That" jumping from number 95 to 7. The leap was fueled by its number six debut on Hot Digital Songs with 67,000 downloads. The record has since been broken several times. In December 2006, Akon's "Smack That" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, but lost to Justin Timberlake and T.I.'s "My Love".
In April 2007, Akon drew criticism for having on-stage simulated sex with Danah (Deena) Alleyne, a preacher's at the time fifteen-year-old daughter, at a club in Trinidad and Tobago, as part of a fake contest, despite the club's claim to have a 21 years and over age limit. The incident was filmed by Akon's crew and later uploaded to the Internet. On April 20, 2007 local media, channel TV6, aired the video clip publicly. Amid criticism on the radio, television, and from the blogosphere, Verizon Wireless removed ringtones featuring Akon's songs. Verizon also decided not to sponsor The Sweet Escape Tour where Akon was to be the opening act for Gwen Stefani. However, Universal Music Group did not take action against Akon, but rather simply ordered the video clip be removed from video-sharing site YouTube due to copyright infringement. Conservative commentator and Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell called this "corporate irresponsibility."
Political commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and Bill O'Reilly criticized Akon for "degrading women." Malkin uploaded commentary about Akon to YouTube, using footage from music videos and the Trinidad concert, and Universal Music Group then forced its removal by issuing a DMCA takedown notice. The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined Malkin in contesting the removal as a misuse of copyright law, citing fair use. In May 2007, UMG rescinded its claim to the video, and the video returned to YouTube.
On June 3, 2007, at WSPK's KFEST concert at the Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, New York, a concert attendee threw an object towards Akon on stage. Akon asked the crowd to identify who threw the object and that he be brought on stage. Security staff grabbed the young man and took him up to the stage. Akon then pulled him up from the crowd and hoisted him across his shoulders. The singer then tossed the attendee back into the crowd from his shoulders. Video of the incident was reviewed by Fishkill police. Akon has claimed that the incident was staged and that he in fact used the act to set up for the next record. Charges of endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor, and second-degree harassment, a violation, were filed, according to police Chief Donald F. Williams, and Akon was arraigned the two charges on December 3, 2007 in the town of Fishkill Court.
Akon released his new album Freedom on December 2, which spawned three singles: "Right Now (Na Na Na)", "I'm So Paid" (featuring Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy) and "Beautiful" (featuring Kardinal Offishall and Colby O'Donis). The album has reached gold status by selling over 500,000 albums.
"The Smoking Gun" reported in April 2008 that much of Akon's purported criminal and incarceration history has been dramatically embellished. In particular, Akon's claims to be part of an auto-theft ring and his claim to have spent three years in prison were challenged with court records and interviews with detectives involved in Akon's case. According to "The Smoking Gun's" article, Akon was not convicted of any crime and did not serve any time in prison from 1999 to 2002 as previously claimed. He stated that "The Smoking Gun's" attempt to “discredit” him “makes no sense as it is something he is trying to forget.”
Akon has also come under fire from the media who claims that the diamond mine he owns in South Africa is a source of conflict diamonds. Speaking on the matter, he told the Independent Newspaper that that the concept-stated by the film Blood Diamond. He strongly denies the claims saying that the movie itself was responsible for creating conflict over diamonds and over-exaggerating the problem.
Akon has confirmed that a reality television show is in the works. It will be called "My Brother's Keeper" and the point is that Akon's two nearly identical brothers will go around in Atlanta posing as him fooling people into thinking that it is in fact Akon. They will try to get VIP treatment, girls and free things. Akon has claimed that people have mistaken his brothers for him many times in Atlanta which is what the show is based on.
Akon is planning to work on a full-length movie titled Illegal Alien. The film is based on some of the events of his life and actor Mekhi Phifer is set to play him. Besides Akon confirmed in August 2007, in the interview with Polish website INTERIA.PL, that he works on a movie "Cocaine Cowboys," which tells the story of Jon Roberts, the main pilot of Medellin Cartel (Colombian drug traffickers). He was also featured on a Verizon Wireless commercial and singing Snitch along with Obie Trice on a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode named "Poppin' Tags."
On November 30, 2007, Akon entered the Big Brother house in Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2 as a guest so the housemates can meet him for only 100 seconds.
Akon also appeared on November 17, 2008 edition of WWE Raw, with Santino Marella citing him in his speech.
On April 27, 2008, Akon appeared with Colby O'Donis in Dance on Sunset.
In February 2007, Akon launched his clothing line, Konvict Clothing. It features urban streetwear including denim jeans, hoodies, t-shirts and hats. Aliaune is the upscale version, or high-end line, for males and females, which includes blazers, denim jeans and other items. Timothy Hodge appeared on MTV's Direct Effect along side Akon while promotioning the Konvict clothing line.
This Akon Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub