Rolling Out

Akon’s latest music incorporates a more pronounced African influence

Akon turns up the heat of Afrobeats
Akon's latest music incorporates a more pronounced African influence
AKON was honored with the W.E.B. DuBois Freedom & Justice Award (Photo credit: Raquelle “Rocki” Harris for rolling out

Akon has been able to include “more of an African influence” in his work because he doesn’t feel any of the financial pressures.

The 50-year-old star enjoyed huge success earlier in his career with various hit singles, such as “Lonely” and “Locked Up,” but his musical style has evolved over time and he no longer feels the pressure to make hits.

The singer — who was born in the U.S., but also spent time in Senegal as a child — told BBC Newsbeat; “Music is not my first revenue stream now, it has dropped down to maybe the 10th.”

Akon insists that financial freedom has helped allow him to “add more culture” to his songs.

“I can enjoy doing it without dealing with politics, and the music business that comes with it,” he explained.

Akon’s new EP, Afro Freaks, draws heavily from Afrobeats, a genre that has become hugely popular around the world in recent years thanks to artists such as Wizkid and Burna Boy. However, Akon remembers a time when the genre was dismissed by record executives in the U.S.

“I remember back in the early 2000s, when I was trying to market and get Afrobeats in America signed, they thought it was Reggae music. It was one of the things that was so frustrating, trying to get them to understand the African population was so big, and this music will be the future. Unfortunately, I got a lot of pushback,” shared the singer, who has worked with the likes of Eminem and Snoop Dogg during his career.

Akon also said that social media has played a big role in the success of the genre.

“I think social media had a huge role to play in expanding the sound of different genres, because we didn’t really have any platforms,” he explained.

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