Akon was a huge name in the beginning of the 2000’s, he is still an icon for various good and negative reasons.
Sorry for being a little rude there.
No one’s perfect and celebrities are simply over judged for their acts and are always under micro lens, yet what Akon commit was a personal betrayal to his fans(to me atleast). Image Courtesy: Amazon.co.uk
Akon, the Sengalese-American icon represented the lives of many African-Americans through his songs and videos which made an impact on many. His story got told and sung all over the world because of the infectious R&B beat and because of his rap.
Akon the self made artist had had a rough life like many immigrants in America, moving from Senegal to America, adapting his life to the new place and running the race to fit in, he has seen it all. His song ‘Freedom’ from the album ‘Freedom’, 2008, roughly sketches out his life from his young age to his adolescence, a story similar to the ones led by many colored communities of people in America, the self acclaimed inclusive country where racial crimes never recede.
Image Courtesy : Musicobsession.com
The songs like ‘Ghetto’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Locked up’, which brought him fame sketches out the struggles that he and other people of hyphenated identities face when growing up, outside their houses, in schools, where they fight for their personal space and their social space. The experiences are colored starkly in these songs, these albums released during his prime time reflects the lives that he lived in the Ghettos(a secluded space for a community of people, there are many ghettos in America, Chinese, African and for other hyphenated groups), targetted and ostracized by the centre. If we start with doing a social analysis of America with his songs we’d never end, so I’ll just get to the point.Image Courtesy: Akon Konvict, Facebook page
Akon’s songs which we all believed to be semi-autobiographical is not quite true. Akon claimed to have been convicted for 3 years and to have written songs from his cell, a quick criminal record survey proves it all a lie, a well crafted story he had spun for marketing, which did work quite well. The records proved that the singer hasn’t been charged for anything other than for possessing a gun once(which is quite common in U.S)and for stealing a BMW. Image Courtesy:Amazon.com
Other than this, his stories of having been the ringleader of a notorious car theft ring and spending more than four years in prison, was all a lie. Yes, he was convicted and was under probation for three years(not arrest) for the first crime he was charged with felony and wasn’t arrested, for the second crime however he did serve time in prison but just for a few months which in total didn’t go beyond three years and definitely didn’t have to face 75 years like he once claimed.Image Courtesy: Fansshare.com
His album ‘konvicted’ which was released in 2006, consists of some bomb songs like ‘Smack That’, Mama Africa’ and ‘Don’t Matter’, he claimed to have penned them down while he was in prison battling everyday to secure a niche and name for himself, now it seems like those were penned down in his luxurious living space(maybe he sat under a table or inside a closet to get the feeling of being locked up somewhere), when I found this amazing discovery last week and called up my friends to enlighten them, i was smacked with the reply, “this is old news crazy” like few of you are thinking right now, but this was a news to me when I was doing some research for my ‘Token representation’ a presentation for my webinar last week and I felt like I had discovered something new among my peers(slapping my face) this realization made me feel like my entire puberty crush on him was built on a lie. (Let’s mourn for the past).
Image Courtesy: @sincerelythapie from Reddit
Anyways when I try and challenge his false story of conviction here, I want to be fair and highlight how truly he expresses his misogynistic views on women through his songs, the amount of misogyny laced graciously on his songs is something we can’t miss, starting from our favorite ‘Smack That’ to many others. It’s only hard to not find a sexist song in his albums.
In his interview with Hollywood Today in 2016, he clearly elucidates where men stand and where women should stand, it’d really wake up something within you, especially the part where he says that men rule the world because they understand women better than women understand men(Mind boggling, Told you right). And these ideas are embedded in his top hits which sadly we all love.
Though we can shrug it off by saying that it’s just entertainment, don’t get all worked up and that’s how rap songs are, it still doesn’t justify how we as conscious consumers promote such sexism through songs. I’ll agree with your mind and put those to rest for now(cos I secretly love his songs a lot and that meme explains what I’d have understood when I was a young audience).Image Courtesy: Facebook
Nevertheless, Akon is a huge philanthropist, someone who has lighted up 15 countries of Africa through his ALA(Akon Light Africa) project, where he focused not simply on charity, because he doesn’t believe in something which provides it all, rather his focus is on developing the skills of the Africans and by using the available resources in Africa, natural and human, his goal is to make Africa a global solar power industry. His other institution ‘Konfidence’ focuses on fulfilling the primary needs of the people, food and education especially of the children.
He is that someone who used his voice to make better the lives of many and made his country proud through his songs like ‘Mama Africa’. Image Courtesy: Evening Standard
Akon who has been quiet all these years is risen again with his songs(not sexist anymore) and plans, seems that he’s been planning on a new Akon city(like Disney Land I presume). and has got the approval this year, January. He’s planning on a tourist city in Senegal, a crypto city which would even have it’s own crypto currency, Akoin, which could be used in Senegal.
Image Courtesy: captain-planet.net
Though it’s a fact that he lied about his life for promoting his songs(it was a rough wake for me from ignorance), it’s actually nothing when I realized how many people are benefiting because of that lie which made him famous.
And even if I take all those sexist lyrics quite literally (many say I shouldn’t) there’s no way I’m not gonna delete them from my phone(maybe I’ll save it under ‘guilty pleasure’ playlist)because I grew up with them and so many good memories are linked to them.
So it’s not that I’d love his songs any less(I’d take it with the salt and bear it) but it definitely wouldn’t have the same impact it had on me once.