Born in St. Louis – Missouri, singer, songwriter, and producer Aliaune Thiam (professionally known as Akon) grew up in Senegal before he and his family (including his father, jazz percussionist Mor Thiam) returned to the United States and settled in New Jersey when he was seven. There he discovered hip-hop for the first time, as well as crime. He was eventually jailed for 3 years but he used the time to work on his musical ideas. Upon release, Akon began writing and recording tracks in a home studio. The tapes found their way to SRC/Universal, which eventually released “Trouble“, Akon’s debut LP, in June 2004. The success of the album’s lead single “Locked Up,” a Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 hit, made Akon a star and desired collaborator. After appearing on Young Jeezy’s “Soul Survivor,” his number of guest appearances seemed to multiply each month.
“Konvicted“, his second album, was released in November 2006. Soon enough, two of the album’s singles, “I Wanna Love You” and “Smack That,” made their way to the upper regions of the Billboard charts. A significant stylistic shift occurred with “Freedom”, his third album. The December 2008 release avoided the rugged hip-hop/R&B hybrid of his earlier work and courted a broader audience with a dance-oriented Euro-pop sound.
He is the first solo artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice. Akon has had four (4) songs certified as 3× platinum, three (3) songs certified as 2× platinum, more than ten (10) songs certified as 1× platinum and more than ten (10) songs certified as gold in digital sales. Akon has sung songs in other languages including Tamil, Hindi, and Spanish. He was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the #1 selling artist for master ringtones in the world.
Forbes ranked Akon 80th (Power Rank) in “Forbes Celebrity 100” in 2010 and 5th in “40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa” list, in 2011. Billboard ranked Akon No. 6 on the list of Top Digital Songs Artists of the decade.