The 1 Heartwarming Way Akon Has Helped Millions of People

Most celebrities are in a unique position to do considerable good in the world. Their stardom gives them the resources and the recognition to provide much-needed relief for some and the opportunity to advance the welfare of others. From environmental issues to human rights, many known names can be tied to charitable works and hands-on goodwill.

Akon is among numerous rappers, including Dr. Dre and Diddy, to join the effort. His colorful and sometimes tumultuous life and career led and inspired the silky-voiced hip hop artist to give back. His vision has made a difference in the lives of more people than even he could have imagined. 

Who is Akon?

Akon performing on stage at the MTV EMAs 2019
Akon | Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for MTV

Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Senegalese parents in 1973. He was raised in a musical family learning to play the drums, guitar, and several other instruments at a young age. Akon spent much of his youth going back and forth between the United States and Senegal until finally settling in New Jersey. By the time he was a teenager, he was performing, singing, and making home recordings.

Akon secured his own record deal in 2003 perhaps with the help of his friend, Wyclef Jean of the Fugees and Lil’ Zane. In 2004, he released his debut album, Trouble, which produced several hit singles including the popular song “Locked Up”. It was an instant international hit and was followed by several equally successful albums throughout the years. Akon‘s third album, Freedom, was certified platinum in the United States in 2008.

The talented rapper often collaborated with well-respected music icons including Whitney Houston and Gwen Stefani. Akon was also a co-writer for Lady Gaga’s Grammy-nominated single “Just Dance“. He won the prestigious Artist of the Year award at the Billboard Music Awards in 2007 as well as being recognized as a unique musical innovator which earned him numerous other awards. 

From controversy to goodwill

Akon’s career wasn’t without controversy. He was in and out of trouble in the early 2000s, though his claim of being incarcerated for three years for grand theft auto was later debunked. From his sexually-explicit lyrics to throwing a young fan off the stage during a concert, Akon managed to incur several legal difficulties along the way. It was only later that he realized how much good he was meant to do.

Akon reached a point in his life where he decided to fully dedicate himself to his Islamic faith. Additionally, in 2015, he launched a mega-solar project called “Akon Lighting Africa” in the heart of West Africa’s country of Mali. It has since expanded to include multiple countries throughout the continent, bringing much-needed electricity to over 600 million people in those countries. 

The initiative not only illuminated the lives of many in 480 communities spanning fifteen countries, but it also updated infrastructure and created numerous jobs. Previous to this effort, Akon and his mother, Kine Thiam, founded The Konfidence Foundation dedicated to empowering and educating young people in their former homeland of Senegal and in the United States. 

Will Akon Run for President?

Akon joins a growing list of celebrities who are thinking of running for president of the United States in 2024. He considered a 2020 run but eventually ruled it out saying he wasn’t quite ready to give up his music just yet. Akon believes his experience as the son of immigrants and as a creative innovator can “take the country and move it forward”.

Akon seems both amused and unmoved when asked about Kanye West‘s aspirations to win the White House in that same year. In an interview with NME, he says a presidential debate between the two rappers would be entertaining and worth watching because of West’s friendship with the current president who Akon does not support. Akon’s full name is Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam so the Oval Office would need a bigger nameplate for the door.

His political goals aside, Akon continues his philanthropic good works and supports a variety of causes and charities. His main interest is to lift morale and offer opportunities to underprivileged children from around the globe. But nothing has proved more worthy than the “Akon Lighting Africa” project that has enriched the lives of millions with sustainability in mind. That, in itself, is something to sing about.