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AKON

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Although he was born in St. Louis, Aliaune Thiam, Akon grew up in Senegal before he and his family (including his father, jazz percussionist Mor Thiam) returned to the United States and settled in New Jersey when he was seven. There he discovered hip-hop for the first time. Akon began writing and recording tracks in a home studio. The tapes found their way to SRC/Universal, which eventually released Trouble, Akon's debut LP, in June 2004. The album was an interesting hybrid of Akon's raps and silky, West African-styled vocals with East Coast- and Southern-styled beats. The success of the song "Locked Up" raised Akon's profile, and he followed up in the fall of 2006 with Konvicted. Soon enough, two of the album's singles, "I Wanna Love You" and "Smack That," had made their way to the upper regions of the Billboard charts. Johnny Loftus, All Music Guide