Akon: The Year of the Konvict
After making platinum success with his first album, Trouble, Akon is back and is already turning heads with his first single Smack Dat featuring Eminem. These two seemingly different individuals are actually cut from tragedys same cloth, as they both lost a trusted and valued individual.
Proofs recent passing has lit a fire inside the Detroit MCs soul and Akon continues to march onward after losing his road manager in a 2004 shooting. The more things change, the more they stay the same as Akon finds himself gearing up for a collaborative effort with Atlantas own snowman, Young Jeezy. This is, indeed, the year of the Konvict, as Akon sits down with HHDX as he breaks down his views on violence in Hip-Hop, the differences between Nate Dogg and himself, and why you should be looking out for him on the big screen.
HHDX: For a while, youve been M.I.A. on the charts and in the streets after Soul Survivor died down. But now you linked up with Eminem for your first single off the new album. Howd that come about?
Akon: Well, actually, that came about from doing the record with Obie Trice. After that session, it allowed Em and I to get together to do the joint. It was almost like one hand washing the other. It was wild because were fans of each other. It was really just a really good time. Our vibe was genuine.
HHDX: Did you guys do the track together in person? How is he holding up?
Akon: The whole record is crazy. The chemistry that we have is great. Hes holding up very well; hes a solider. We did the song a month after Proof had passed. I lost my road manager a while back and the both of us just had a deep conversation about the losses that we both suffered. We didnt allow none of that affect us from getting our work finished. But hes standing strong, though.
HHDX: Violence seems to be a part of the Hip-Hop culture. Being from Senegal, with its own history, how do you view the actions of those who are here in America living successful off of their artistry?
Akon: It depends on how you view it. I think that everyone has their own views and beliefs. I mean we dont know what caused them to go their route. I talk about a lot of stuff negatively, but it has a positive connotation. You cannot control peoples motives. I hope that people take notice of what goes on. I have done wrong before. But I feel like Im free to say however I feel. I have never felt that I had to hold my tongue for anyone. Its not like I havent been in worst situations before. I feel that lying and all that is what got me in trouble before. But I always feel that the truth should come out how it should come out.
HHDX: Well, its been two years since your manager was fatally gunned down outside of a New Jersey bar. Do you think that the things said by acts in todays music have a deadly consequence attached?
Akon: I think that a lot of topic matter that we speak about in the Hip-Hop genre puts us in danger. When you speak on negativity, you have to be careful about what youre manifesting. We choose to live by the gun, so its appropriate that well die by the gun. I always felt like that is the chance that as an artist, we all take. If you look at the lyrics that we put out there, you can tell that it attracts a certain type of person. It allows that element to affect your life, as well as your career. At the end of the day, its all about keeping smart people around me. The people who are all around me are plan B people. But dont get it twisted, theyve had their share of issues too and will deal with any situation accordingly. Its just that they think plan B first.
HHDX: Some opinions state that youre a new generations version of Nate Dogg for your ability to give that hook that extra push. What do you think about the comparison and with your new album set for release what do you think are the differences between the two of you?
Akon: The difference between myself and Nate Doggis that he sings choruses. I make the track and give directions on lyrics. I come into the picture as a developer. A lot of these songs that came out, I gave it to the artist. Meaning, I took my verses off and allowed them to do it. Right now, a lot of people are just figuring out that I write and produce. I learn about the artist and help them cultivate.
HHDX: Album sales are on a low for Hip-Hop acts and it seems that Hip-Pop acts like Christina Aguiliera, Nelly Furtado, and Justin Timberlake have benefited from Hip-Hops downward trend with producers like Timbaland and DJ Premier. Who has produced tracks on this album?
Akon: I produced my whole album. Just like the last. The only difference between then and now is that with my first album I didn't sign any producers. But with this album, I did. I co-produced three or four with a few of the new producers that Ive signed to my label. There are fourteen tracks that are going to be on the album and its set for release on November 14th.
HHDX: Well something that could infuse some Ritalin into the game is a supposed collaborative album between yourself and Young Jeezy. Is there any truth to that?
Akon: Yeah, Im actually putting that together. Im just trying to get off the road long enough so we can get together to do the album. People kept asking for it. I know that the people would love to hear it. Were trying to really work on that. Im going to drop my album and let him drop his and then well do ours together.
HHDX: Well, you know itll sell as much as people probably say, Akon and Young Jeezy
Akon: Hell, yeah! I need to adopt his name as my last name for as much as Ive heard that.
HHDX: You also got into the studio with Ushers new group One Chance how did that come about and do you like working with up-and-coming acts over established ones?
Yes, I did a song with them. Usher has his new label coming out soon and I did the song called Private. The song was produced by Ryan Leslie. Its a really They have a first single with Fabo called, Look at Her that is really good, too. I really like working with whoever is willing to work and grind hard.
HHDX: Your label, Konvict Music, is growing rather steadily. T-Pain is still bumping out of a few jeeps and is there any truth to you signing, Chili from TLC to the imprint?
Akon: Yeah, I just signed her. She is a part of the label. She is going to be the first lady of Konvict Music. I want to bring her out as a solo act. No one has been able to be see her as a solo since shes been down with TLC for her entire career. We have about four new songs already finished. The album is going to be set for release sometime in 2007.
HHDX: Also, the rumor is that youre working on a full-length movie about your life? Youre not going to have Samuel L. Jackson play you, are you? [laughs]
Akon: Nah [laughs] I am doing a movie. It is going to be called The Illegal Alien. The movie is a mixture of City of God, Menace II Society, and Ray. Were going to start casting in February of next year, in hopes that well get a late 2007 release.
HHDX: What do you think is the most important aspect of having a successful career?
Akon: I think that the most important fact is just keeping it true to yourself and keeping it consistent. A lot of people want to change their sound to gain more confidence. Youre always going to be successful because youre going to be true to your audience and yourself.