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Music Review: Akon – Konvicted

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The sophomore CD by Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, also known as Akon, is a hip-hop R&B follow up to his successful album Trouble. Released in 2004, the album produced the U.S. top ten hits “Locked up” and “Lonely”. The New York Times called him a “groundbreaking artist”.

This time Konvicted tops the charts with the songs “Smack That” at number two and the very controversial “I Wanna Love You” at number one. I have more to say on this second one in a moment.

Akon grew up in Senegal until he was seven and his family moved to the states, eventually settling in Jersey City, New Jersey. In high school he discovered hip hop and he discovered crime. He was jailed for car theft and now, with a felony record, he felt that all he had left was his music. So while he was in jail, he began to take his music seriously.

Music has always been in Akon’s life. The son of accomplished jazz musician Mor Thiam, Akon was exposed to diverse musical styles. A lover of soul songs he also listened to the likes of Bobby Vinton and Steely Dan.

During his incarceration, which lasted three years, he wrote most of the songs on his Trouble CD. After the release, he formed his own label; Konvict. It was then that he began recording music in a home studio. This eventually led to the release of Trouble in June of 2004.

Konvicted was released on November 14, 2006 and includes collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Styles P, and Brick and Lace who are also on the Konvict Muzik label. The single “Smack That” features Eminem as well.

During the week of October 5, the “Smack That” single broke a record on the Hot 100 where Akon achieved the largest climb on the charts 48-year history. It rocketed from 95 to number 7

Akon has also been featured in Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape due out in December 2006. He is also planning on a full-length movie on his life. The movie Money, Power & Respect: A Hustler’s Dream is due out late 2007 or early 2008.

Over all, I like the album. Akon shows a diverse talent and a strong sense of style. He moves from street stories to R&B ballads easily. He uses sing-rapping and multi tracking of his voice for handling his own backing vocals. He cleanly laces pop music with his hard-core style.

My main problem with the album is more with the packaging and the explicit lyrics in the song “I Wanna Love You”. There are two versions of this song. The “clean” one that uses this title and is played on the radio stations. The other is the one that replaces the word “Love” with the F word.

There are many songs that have two different versions. That, after all is artistic choice. My problem is with the fact that the title on the cover and the words on the lyric sheet contain the words for the clean version. The song that is on my CD is not the censored one.

For those parents who want to handle the balance between screening their ageing teenagers music from cruder material and letting them become more exposed the real world, this is just plain wrong to do. I think that the words that are on the cover and lyric sheet should reflect what is on the CD. If the producers are too embarrassed to put it on the cover don’t put it in the CD.

My personal opinion is that Akon is too talented of an individual to miss this CD. Be aware that there are very explicit lyrics on this album. If you are offended by language, get the clean version.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
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