Thiam, known as Akon, born in Senegal, is an R&B singer who
released his debut album ''Trouble'' in 2004, which included the
singles "Locked Up" [Remix] (featuring Styles P), "Bonanza"
and "Ghetto". "Locked Up" reached the top
10 in the US, and the top 5 in the UK. "Ghetto" also
became a radio hit when it was remixed to include verses from
legendary rappers Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace) and 2Pac
(Tupac Shakur). Recently, he has also released the single "Lonely"
(sampled Bobby Vinton), which has reached top 10 on the US charts.
mere act of surviving on a day to day basis is the foundation
from which a true artist builds his craft. Multi-talented newcomer
AKON is no exception to this rule. His dynamic debut album, Trouble,
a collection of stirring songs, creatively reflects the ups and
downs of the singer/songwriter/producer's life experiences. A
crafty blend of soulful hip-hop, TROUBLE is AKON's vibrant first
time tour-de-force. Trouble evolved from the struggles I went
through and what I did and am still doing to correct those things,"
offers AKON, who has had his fair share of adolescent problems
with both the legal and school system, as is reflected in his
redemption song "Trouble Nobody." "I've got a habit
of writing about everything I go through," he explains, "and
this album gives a glimpse of where I am now."
where AKON is right now is just half the equation. The other half
lies in where he came from: this young artist possesses a unique
history. A Senegalese African, AKON moved to the United States
when he was seven. His family is headed by legendary percussionist
and jazz musician Mor Thiam, whose expertise for playing the Djembe,
a traditional African drum, has been touted as "unrivaled."
It was AKON's
deep rooted love and passion for music, evolving from filial admiration,
which allowed him to turn his life around, despite his trouble
as a youth residing in New Jersey. AKON began playing several
different percussion instruments and eventually embraced hip-hop
music and culture, despite his initial disdain for the genre.
I first heard hip-hop I thought it was rubbish because I didn't
understand the concept of people talking over music," AKON
recalls, "But as I started growing up, living a little and
listening to the lyrics, I realized that I was going through a
lot of stuff these rappers were talking about and I could relate."
Once hip-hop took over his life, AKON's musical development exploded
and he began channeling his energy into writing and producing
his own music. Songs such as "Show Out" display how
much hip-hop has influenced him. Over the sparsely yet hard hitting
groove, "Don't tempt me/'Cuz I'm close to the edge/I'm trying
not to lose my head," ring the lyrics that cleverly integrates
original school lyrics. At the same time, the song pays homage
to hip-hop pioneers all while maintaining its own identity.
single "Bananza (Belly Dance)" exhibits another side
of the artist. On this song AKON puts forth a feel-good vibe.
Singing over a seductive and sensual beat, "Bananza (Belly
Dance)," is one of AKON's most irresistible tracks. The song
integrates a unique up tempo dance beat with a distinct wind instrumentation
floating in the background guaranteed to improve every listener's
mood. The reason for this, AKON says, "There are a lot of
negative things going on today." "We need to party and
just have fun," he continues, "'Bananza…' is a
party record. You just go in the club, party and enjoy those beautiful
women." Life does not solely revolve around beautiful women
and leisure time and AKON is well aware of this. On the somber,
soulful "Ghetto" and the meditative, impressive "Journey,"
AKON gives listeners an in-depth look into a harsher world, one
that is just as gripping as it is chilling. But rather than sensationalize
his own drama, AKON transmits, to his audience, the feeling of
being a part of his inner circle.
appeal and ability to reach a listener is a part of his whole
package: a package that includes, most importantly, his distinctive
vocals and a relaxed singing style. It is as though he is speaking
to you as he sings in a very intimate manner. "When I sing
the sound comes from the mood that I am in. These records are
coming straight from the heart," AKON divulges. Genuine and
honest, AKON's music is a step in a new direction: a trajectory
that will lead us on a delightfully fulfilling path. Says AKON,
"When I'm on the mic, I'm just giving the listener a part
of me." Be prepared to receive it.