Akon: From “Trouble” to Glory
West Africa can lay a claim to the jewel that is Aliaune Damala Badara Thiam, or Akon as you may know him. He is after all originally from the quaint nation of Senegal where he spent much of his childhood before he and his family returned to the United States (where he was born) and settled in New Jersey when he was seven.
His father was the legendary percussionist and jazz musician Mor Thiam whose expertise for playing the Djembe drum, a traditional African drum, is widely regarded as “unrivalled”. His mother was a dancer. He learned to play five instruments, including drums, guitar and djembe. This family musical background proved to be helpful in opening the path to a musical career for Akon.
It was while in Jersey City that discovered hip-hop for the first time. Side by side with this discovery was however trouble as he started to hang with local thugs. He had trouble at school and difficulty staying because of the lure of the fast buck. He was busted for selling guns, bullet and test questions for every test. He was jailed for armed robbery and drug distribution charges. In between time, he used his time to begin writing his own songs.
It was only natural that his debut LP which was released in 2004 be titled “Trouble” considering all that he went through during the period. It was upon being freed from behind bars that Akon began to pursue his musical career, recording tracks in a home studio. Being brought up in an environment that values the true artistic worth of musicianship and revels in the mastering of instrumental skill certainly helped turn around his life and moved him pursue his deep rooted love and passion for music.
“Trouble”, riding primarily on the wave of the hit single “Locked Up”, which was based on his experience of serving a three-year jail sentence for grand theft auto, catapulted him to international stardom. A string of global guest appearances would bring further acclaim. In 2006, his sophomore album “Konvicted” was released making him even all the more famous. Its first single “Smack That” featured Eminem and shot to #2 in Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed on the post for five consecutive weeks. It was also nominated for Best Rap/Song collaboration at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.
His personal life is very private although he claims that he has six children with three different women all of whom he has great relationships with. He gives back to society through his Konfidence Foundation which is a charity for underprivileged children in Africa.
It does truly make us glad that Akon who has accomplished so much is proud to be African and flies the continent’s flag abroad and everywhere he goes.