Happy Birthday, Akon!
When the '90s babies reach their 40s, chances are that they will reminisce on Akon's commercial peak whether they liked him or not. He was just that ubiquitous. The singer turns 42 today (April 16).
Born Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, Akon achieved fame by become something like the hood's mournful griot. His breakout hit "Locked Up" was the most representative of that position. After being in the game for eight years, the singer broke into the Billboard Hot 100 by singing from the perspective of a person behind bars, which is a drama many people still relate to. "Ghetto," his follow-up, also focused on urban strife. However, it didn't match the success of his breakout hit, stalling at No. 92.
Later singles would see Akon moving away from personalizing social issues. The melancholic "Lonely" became a single palatable enough to earn a Radio Disney edit. Akon quickly reached his commercial peak with Konvicted, his sophomore effort. That LP went triple platinum off the strength of gems like "Smack That" featuring Eminem, "I Wanna Love You" with Snoop Dogg and "Don't Matter." The latter two hit No. 1.
Then he flamed out. Freedom went gold, but, with the exception of "Right Now (Na Na Na," the singles made ripples instead of splashes. It was better than most, but his run as the most artist with the most ringtones had come to an end. That was quite a run, though; he's the all-time No. 1 selling artist for master ringtones, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
To conclude, the Akon chart-topping days are over, but his run from "Lonely" to "I Just Had Sex" is a memorable one.
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