April 16, 1973
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
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It only took music artist Akon a few years to leap from total obscurity to certified platinum status. The hip hop singer, songwriter, and producer broke out in the years surrounding the inception of his relationship with SRC Records, going on to release popular and acclaimed albums Trouble (2004), Konvicted (2006), and Freedom. Working with famous artists including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, musical parodists The Lonely Island and Gwen Stefani, among others, Akon affixed himself to the center of the hip hop scene, becoming one of the most popular artists of his era. Akon was born Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam on April 16, 1973, in St. Louis, Missouri. Akon spent most of his childhood in Dakar, Senegal, the native country of his father, jazz musician Mor Thiam; Akon's mother, Kine Gueye Thiam, was a dancer. At age seven, Akon moved with his family to New Jersey. Upon reaching high school, he remained in the state with his brother while his parents relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly after turning 30, Akon began to find success as a music artist. His first album, Trouble (2004), begat the single "Lonely" and prompted-via the popularity of "Locked Up"-a record deal with SRC Records. Critical success would accompany Akon's next album, Konvicted (2006). The album earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album; featured songs "Smack That" (which boasted a guest appearance by artist Eminem) and "I Wanna F--k You," otherwise known as "I Wanna Love You" (which included a verse by Snoop Dogg), earned nominations in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category. Akon then expanded his creative reach beyond singing and songwriting. He produced Gwen Stefani's album The Sweet Escape (2006), and launched his own clothing line under the label Konvict Clothing. While Akon's following album, Freedom (2009), did not receive the same awards attention as Konvicted, it spawned four successful singles-"Beautiful," "I'm So Paid," "Right Now (Na Na Na)," and "We Don't Care"-and sold over a million copies to reach the United States' certified platinum status. Following the release of Freedom, Akon released and collaborated on a number of singles. Among his notable releases were "Angel" and "We Are the World: 25 for Haiti" in 2010; the latter was written and produced as a charity single to benefit victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Around this time, Akon incepted an acting career, making his big screen debut in the internationally conscious drama "Black November" (2012). As he continued to release singles, such the 2013 collaboration with Wiz Khalifa titled "Dirty Work," Akon also amounted more acting gigs, including a roles in the thriller parody "Tooken" (2015) and the crime drama "American Heist" (2015).