In writing a profile about Akon, it’s hard to decide on what exact genius one should focus on. With laudable track records in music, business and even human interest forays, Akon is the man to emulate.
This was not immediately evident when Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam initially came on the scene. He broke past our defenses with his 2004 release of Locked Up, which got everyone singing along, not an especially easy feat for a street song about people sending him magazines and money orders and coming to visit him in lock up.
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Akon however seemed intent on schooling us on his genius in music. So far, he’s raked in an impressive career record with five Grammy award nominations, four songs certified as 3x platinum, three songs certified as 2x platinum, over ten songs certified as 1x platinum and over ten more certified as gold in digital sales.
He is the first solo artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboards Hot 100 charts twice and is listed by the Guiness Book of World Records as the #1 selling artist for master ringtones in the world. Credited with 300 guest appearances and having produced songs for artists like Lady Gaga, Colby O’Donis, Kardinal Offishall, Leona Lewis and T-Pain, his success is almost surreal.
With all this greatness, it’s no wonder we got ahead of ourselves. By way of a brief background; Akon was born April 16, 1973 in St. Louis, Missouri and spent most of his childhood in Senegal. His mother was a dancer and his father a percussionist, it is therefore not much of a wonder that he learnt to play five instruments inclusive of the drums, guitar and djembe. He allegedly began to recognize and appreciate his musical talents whilst in jail for three years.
Akon has released four albums to date, successfully founded two record labels, owns a charity for underprivileged children in South Africa called Konfidence foundation, owns a mine in South Africa and is currently running a project, which is the inspiration for this profile, called Akon lighting Africa which he launched in 2014 and which provides electricity for over 15 countries in Africa.
The Akon Lighting Initiative supported by Solektra on December 15, 2015 launched the Solektra Solar Academy in Mali with the idea to train young generation leaders in renewable energy. With a reach of 15 countries in the continent, over a 100,000 streetlamps, 1,000 solar micro-generators and 200,000 household electric systems, seamlessly creating thousands of jobs, Akon will probably go down in the history books as more than a musical and business genius; desirable things to say the least; but also as one of Africa’s truest sons.