Not many platinum-selling five-time Grammy Award nominees are releasing free mixtapes these days. But if you hadn’t already known that Akon is not the traditional musician, his newest tape Konkrete Jungle will quickly fill you in. With Stadium, his long-awaited fourth studio album, due out September 11, the internationally known hip hop crooner is attempting to regain the heart of both the streets and the charts with his newest project, which depicts him as a half-man half-lion on the mixtape cover.
Portraying himself as king of the concrete jungle may seem peculiar to those who only know Akon for his buttery pop hits (“Smack That,” “I Wanna Love You”) but fans who remember the street image he introduced himself with (2004’s Trouble featured the Styles P-assisted street banger “Locked Up”) may see it as a return to form. Whether he and Busta Rhymes are wailing threats over horns on "Call Da Police" or he is remixing pop hits by indie rockers Gotye ("Used to Know”), the Senegalese American singer shows off his versatility throughout the tape. Few musicians can sound at home on club anthems like Future's "Same Damn Time" or the Billboard smash "Cashin' Out" while still shining on pop, soul and reggae tunes as well, but that’s what’s made Akon one of the highest grossing musicians of our era.
For Konkrete Jungle, Akon returns to the edge that drove his early success in the mid-2000s. But his Konvict image does not keep him from showcasing his creative depth for better or worse. From the title, it's clear that Konkrete Jungle is the Billboard king's return to the streets, but with an added twist of creativity that will pique listener curiosity as he prepares for his album in the fall.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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(Photo: courtesy Konvict Musik)