Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam (born April 16, 1973), better known as Akon (pronounced /ˈeɪkɒn/), is an American-born Senegalese singer, rapper, songwriter, businessman, record producer and actor. 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 Kon Live Distribution. 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. He has worked with numerous performers such as Michael Jackson, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Whitney Houston, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Gwen Stefani. He has had five Grammy Awards nominations and has produced songs for artists such as Lady Gaga, Colby O'Donis, Kardinal Offishall, Leona Lewis, and T-Pain.
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.
Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent much of his childhood in the West African country Senegal, which he describes as his "hometown". The child of a dancer mother and a percussionist father, Mor Thiam, Akon learned to play five instruments, including drums, guitar and djembe. At age 7, 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.
In regards to his birth date, Akon is very protective of it, which is the reason many media outlets have reported incorrect dates. However, legal documents released by The Smoking Gun list his date of birth as April 16, 1973.