Akon (born Aliuane Badara Thiam, 30.4.1973)
Akon is a Senegalese / American hip-hop songwriter / singer and producer. He rose to fame when his single `Locked Up' was released in 2004. He is the only artist to ever achieve the number one and number two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100.
Childhood: Born in Senegal, Akon was raised in a musical environment and learned to play several instruments. Aged seven, he moved to New Jersey, USA.
Akon allegedly spent time in jail and it is reportedly here that he developed an understanding of his musical abilities and an appreciation for his background. Upon his release, he immediately started to record his music and send out demo tapes. Most of his songs begin with the clanging of a jail cell and Akon saying the word `Convict.'
Musical Career: Akon's music is mix of West-African style vocals, along with both East Coast and Southern-style beats. His solo album was released in 2004. Trouble generated the singles `Locked Up,' `Lonely' and `Ghetto,' among others. `Locked Up' was allegedly inspired by a three-year jail term that he served for committing grand theft auto. The song reached the top 10 in the US and the top five in he UK.
The song `Ghetto' became a hit when it was remixed to include verses from 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.
Between 2006 and 2007, Akon had eleven songs in the Billboard Hot 100. His second album, Konvicted was released in November 2006. The album contained collaborations with Eminem and Snoop Dogg.
Akon achieved his first solo number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with the single `Don't Matter.'
Konvicted had sold more than a million records in the US in its first six weeks on sale. It stayed in the Billboard 200 album chart's Top 20 for 28 consecutive weeks.
In 2006, `Smack That' was nominated for Best Rap / Sung Collaboration at the Grammy Awards.
Personal Life: It is alleged that Akon has three wives. He is a Muslim, and polygamy is legal under Islamic law.
In 2007, Akon's criminal past scuppered his plans to tour in Australia, as he was refused a visa.
Akon's manager, Robert Montanez was shot to death in December 2005. The drive-by shooting happened in New Jersey. Akon was in the car and was shot in the shoulder but made a full recovery.
In 2006, Akon launched his own label, Kon Distribution, which is a part of Interscope Records.
Other collaborations that Akon has undertaken include an appearance on Gwen Stefani's album the Sweet Escape; working with Chamillionaire on his Mixtape Messiah 2 compilation and featuring on Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's Strength Loyalty album. In 2007, Akon recorded a new mix of Michael Jackson's `Wanna Be Startin' Somethin.' The new version of the song charted in the top 10 in most countries around the world.
Akon has launched his own Konvict Clothing line, featuring street wear such as jeans, hoodies and t-shirts. An upmarket version named Aliaune features blazers and smarter wear.
Akon courted controversy in 2007 when he was filmed in a Trinidad & Tobago club, simulating sex with the 15-year old daughter of a local preacher. Later that year, at a concert in New York, he threw an audience member back offstage and into the crowd, after the young man had been identified as the person that had thrown an object onstage at him. Following a police enquiry, Akon claimed that the event had been staged.
There are claims that Akon's criminal past has been significantly over-exaggerated. He has apparently been convicted of a single felony (possession of a gun), for which he received three years' probation. He also spent several months in jail for stealing a single BMW. The prosecutors dropped all charges against him.
Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata clearly feels passionate about the problems in his country, but despite the presence of Hollywood stars the movie is made in a style that will feel amateurish to Western audiences. Obvious screenwriting is the main problem, ramping up melodrama when political intensity is needed. Essentially, a more organic approach to storytelling, with attention to the characters instead of the themes, would have made this a much more powerful thriller.
After studying in America, 21-year-old Ebiere (Mbong Amata) returns home to her Niger Delta community just in time to witness a horrific oil-company accident in which most of her family perishes. As the most educated person in her village, she rises to a position of leadership among the rebels fighting for fairer treatment from petrol executive Tom (Mickey Rourke) and the corrupt military, which responds with relentless violence, betraying and brutalising the villagers. As she falls for rebel commander Dede (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), Ebiere becomes even more important. And things take a further turn when she's charged with murder after a protest turns fatal. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, desperate Nigerians (including Wyclef Jean and Akon) take Tom hostage along with a local reporter (Kim Basinger) to demand justice for Ebiere's plight.
Writer-director Amata made this film three years ago, then reworked it to add the L.A. sequences in an effort to make Nigeria's struggle feel more current in the context of global activism. This works to an extent, as it stirs the hot topic of terrorism into the mix. But the big action set pieces are directed and edited in a choppy way that feels undercooked. The story of desperate political activism amid heavy-handed corruption is compelling, but it's watered down by some rather soapy interpersonal plot points. Still, the film remains involving, a powerful tale of little guys standing up to forces much bigger than themselves simply in the name of what's right.
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Instagram's decision to purge its website of millions of fake accounts has left a number of celebrities a million or so short of 'friends'. Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian have been the worst hit, but which other celebrities have also been affected by the 'Instagram rapture'?
The photo sharing site Instagram has decided to remove millions of profiles which were believed to be posting spam. The website's action, dubbed the 'Instagram rapture', has left a number of legitimate users disgruntled at their seeming lack of online popularity and the purge has seriously affected celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Akon.
Kim Kardashian is now the second most followed Instagram user.
St. Louis' hip hop scene is explored in the latest Budweiser documentary.
The ever overlooked St. Louis, Missouri is our next stop for the Budweiser Made in America documentary series, and an appropriate point ahead of Jay Z's music festival.
Almost every major city in the United States has some sort of musical identity which is exactly that sort of thing that inspired Jay Z to create Budweiser Made in America festival. It's all about looking at different genres from all over the country and uniting them in two major cities: Philadelphia and Los Angeles. However, there are plenty of musically rich cities out there that just barely get noticed - even in spite of some of the major stars that have come out of them.