Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam born April 16, 1973, known mononymously as Akon, is a Senegalese-American singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and actor from New Jersey. He rose to prominence in 2004 following the release of “Locked Up”, the first single from his debut album, Trouble. He has since founded two successful record labels, Konvict Muzik and KonLive Distribution. The labels served as a stepping stone for many soon-to-be successful acts, such as Lady Gaga, T-Pain, R. City, Kardinall Offishall, and Red Café. His second album, Konvicted received three nominations for the Grammy Awards in two categories, Best Contemporary R&B Album for Konvicted album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You”. 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 songs certified as 3× platinum, three songs certified as 2× platinum, more than ten songs certified as 1× platinum and more than ten 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. Akon often provides vocals as a featured artist and is currently credited with over 300 guest appearances and more than 35 Billboard Hot 100 songs, resulting in five Grammy Awards nominations. He has released 6 solo albums and has handled the majority of production on his solo work and guest features. Alongside this, he also produced records mainly for artists on his respective labels, as well as for other artists such as Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Lionel Richie, Leona Lewis, Sean Paul and Whitney Houston. 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.
Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam was born on April 16, 1973, in St. Louis to a Muslim family. He spent a significant part of his childhood in Senegal, which he described as his “hometown”. A child of a dancer mother—Kine Gueye Thiam (nèe. Gueye), and a percussionist father, Mor Thiam, Akon learned to play five instruments, including drums, guitar and djembe. At age seven, he moved with his family to Union City, New Jersey, splitting his time between the United States and Senegal until settling in Newark, New Jersey. Growing up in New Jersey, Akon had difficulties getting along with other children. When he and his older brother reached high school, his parents left them on their own in Jersey City and moved the rest of the family to Atlanta, Georgia. Akon attended William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City. Through his father Mor Thiam, he is part part Dogon, an ethnic group of Mali.