• Thursday, March 05, 2015


by Zia Nazmul Islam

Although known as Akon, his full name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam. Go back and read that epic name again. He is a Senegalese American R&B and hip hop recording artist, songwriter, and record producer. Other than cricket itself, Akon being in Bangladesh is an attraction of T20 world cup. International stars like Akon are hard to get hold of. Through numerous phone calls and through non-cooperative security I managed to get into a small press conference. Appearing on the conference in casual outfit, Akon was full of energy and excited. He answered all our questions with a smile.

Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon
Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon

After much communication, on 13th of March, Star Showbiz learned that Akon is already in Dhaka and staying at the Westin. After much coaxing, Akon decided to show up for a small press conference. Getting inside the Westin lobby, the security wasn't convinced that Akon will be talking to the press. Again, a few more phone calls got us into the conference hall. Full of humour, Akon was sporty enough to answer all of our pesky questions.  
Akon showed up within minutes. Along with him was the agency owner who was managing Akon's presence in Bangladesh. I must say, the most striking figure in the room was a huge African American man dressed up like an oil prospector from Texas – Akon's bodyguard, I guess. Akon didn't need any introduction. QA session began straight away.  Akon is always excited about any performance. He couldn't wait to perform the next day. He also wanted to go out and see the city. He was praising the food. Regarding food, he jokingly said, “The food is amazing and that's very important. When you touch down, the very first thing you want to know how the food is”.
Akon feels that his Senegalese background is his advantage. When hip hop came to the music scene, he was able to add African elements into it. He is doing American or British music but with the integration of African melody, he brought international flavour into it. His heritage made him open to all kinds of music. He said, “I don't put myself in on particular box or contain myself to one genre”. He made all laugh by adding, “If you go to any country in the world there is going to be a song by me somewhere on the charts”.
the music of akon
The inspiration of Akon's music is his life's experience. As he travels around the world and gains experience – these are the topics of his songs. He admits that his music started off really dark and gradually it became lighter. It was because the more successful he became his eyes started opening up which is reflected in his songs. Akon's first album is named 'Trouble' and the second one is 'Convicted' while his latest one is named 'Stadium'. Akon again made all a laugh by saying, “It went from a small holding cell to a stadium”. Akon plays many instruments but we don't get to see him play them much. He started off as a songwriter and a producer, but in terms of instruments he is more of a percussionist. He doesn't like play instruments because he doesn't want be seen as a musician – he just likes to have fun.
A while ago Akon was ready to do a reality TV show called 'My Brother's Keeper' with his brother. The show, based on him and brother's life. Jokingly he said, “My little brother got too popular because he used to run around posing as me. He used to pick up all the girls and even stole my girls twice!”
Akon's music and his other ventures is a reminder of him being incarcerated. He feels that it was a turning point in his life. Naming of his albums reminds him how it all started and where he doesn't want to be.
Out of more than 300 artists Akon has featured with, he cherishes working with Michael Jackson the most. His ultimate musical dream has been achieved by playing with Michael Jackson. He and MJ had plans to build entertainment Universities in Africa. Although Michael is no more, Akon wants to move forward with the vision they had together. The presence of Michael Jackson's loss was felt all across the when he did 'We Are the World 25 for Haiti'.
Akon feels “Sports is like music – they go hand-in-hand”. He admits that his favourite sport is soccer and Basketball but he is just beginning to learn about cricket. He knows very few cricketers and Brian Lara is one of them. It was his Indian fans who pushed him into cricket. Again, laughingly he admits, “I am still learning about cricket, I don't know all the rules yet”.
Akon appreciates the love and support of the Bangladeshi people. He plans to put out a record specifically for this sub-continent and have a full tour in Bangladesh soon.  


Published: 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

Leave your comments | Comment Policy
ICC Cricket World Cup