Lady Gaga and AkonSince breaking into the mainstream in '04, Akon has steadily built an empire that has turned the former car thief into a business mogul and record exec. "Lady Gaga pretty much retired me," Akon told the Associated Press recently. "She was definitely a blessing. She came at the right moment. I'm glad I believed in her, boy. That goes to show, if you believe in something good -- it will pay off."

Akon has not only written, produced, and sold millions of his own records, he's pioneered other artists signed to his own Konvict Muzik Record Company. Lady Gaga was apparently on her way to being dropped when Akon was the only one who still believed in her talent, "She had went through like four or five labels. When I closed my deal at Interscope, she was getting dropped that week ... they was dropping her again. I was like 'Yo, I wanna sign that right there.' Jimmy [Iovine] was like, 'Yeah, whatever you want, take her. Let's get it done.' She's blossomed into a super-mega star."

In addition to Gaga, Konvict's roster boasts T-Pain, Colby O'Donnis, Kardinal Official and more. While Akon seems to have taken a step back from the spotlight to carefully develop his clothing and music distribution businesses, his artists have several projects scheduled to be released this year, with Lady Gaga showing now signs of letting up on her rule of the pop charts anytime soon. The life of a Konvict doesn't seem so bad after all.