Akon may be the busiest artist for someone in a more advanced portion of their musical career.
The Senegalese-American singer recently released his latest single and music video for “Enjoy That” which relays the extravagant lifestyle the success he’s had has brought him and the notion to stop and appreciate what you’ve earned. That said though, Akon’s also got a lot on his plate – both when it comes to music and far more.
“It was more so about getting back to the music and really enjoying it the way I would have or wanted to when I first came into the business,” he said during an interview with BET.com about his latest song/video drop. “When I first came in, success happened so fast and it just kind of overlapped on top of each other. So I was always busy, my calendar always full, no vacations, and then the business attached to it made it even crazier. My legacy is built out in a great way where I'm happy with it.”
“Enjoy That” is also just the tip of the iceberg as Akon notes it’s the first single from a new album he’s releasing at the top of next year called Akonik. The LP would be his first solo studio LP since 2019’s El Negreeto and his fourth in total. Prior to that, the Konvict Muzik founder said he’s dropping a project titled TikTok Freak in partnership with the social media platform to be the first EP released under it.
Akon says that he’s not much of a social media person, but when he learned that some of his older catalog was popular on TikTok, he immediately bought into the idea of creating a project in coordination with the company.
“I realized just how relevant I was on TikTok after so many years and I also realized that there's a whole another generation that didn't experience a lot of my records and it was kind of reopening up that base for me, but more of a younger base,” he explains. “I was like, man, if TikTok is really rocking with my album, we need to go and just put an album specifically for TikTok and just go hard with it. Let's take advantage in a moment.”
The new projects are sort of a full circle moment for Akon and are slated to be released 17 years after his landmark, 2x platinum album Konvicted. Released in 2006, the project featured bangers like “Smack That”, "Don't Matter", and “I Wanna Love You”. The singer notes that it feels like the LP’s release and subsequent monster success feels like it was yesterday, and also, nearly two decades ago.
“It seemed like I blink my eyes and open them in just 15 years later, Like, what, it's been that long already?” he says when asked about looking back at Konvicted. “But it really hit me when I realized that my son, who's now 21, he was super young. I just couldn't believe it, just to watch to see how everything around me is getting and how fast time is flying was crazy.”
Away from music, and what many are more familiar with when it comes to Akon’s recent activity, is his philanthropy. He’s building a city in Africa named Akon City, while also being on a mission to bring electricity and light to the entire continent. When it comes to the completely-sustainable city he’s building, Akon says it’s on track as far as his plans go, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to forming something large-scale from scratch.
“When you're dealing with a renewable city or any city for that matter, there's so many moving parts that you probably don't take into account. One of the things that I never even knew was the studies that come with that. It's thousands of studies added to the situation that gives you all the elements and information that you need even to start construction at first,” he explains. “You have to understand the environment, how the soil is going to hold it, the ground that it sits on, the kind of weight that it can hold because I'm right by the water. These are buildings that are gonna be 100 feet tall. Imagine the weight on that.”
Between 2014 and 2015, Akon secured more than $400 million in investment for his Akon Lighting Africa initiative and immediately became operational in 11 countries on the continent. Based in Mali, the project says on its website that it has “already enabled 32.3 million people across Africa to meet their basic electricity needs (lighting and mobile phone charging) through quality-verified off-grid solar products.”
“As long as energy is necessary in different parts of the world, starting with Africa, we want to provide energy for everyone,” he says. “Currently we're building a youth center in the same area where Akon City is being built but it’s mainly a training center for the youth. So we want to be able to train the youth early for construction, we want to be able to train them for management, hospitality, all of that.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be completely full circle if Akon’s global impact on music wasn’t mentioned. With relatively newer artists like seven-time BET Award-winner Wizkid lighting up the globe currently, it’s something he proclaims as nothing short of amazing and part of a mission he’s been on for over a decade.
“It feels amazing because I remember pushing to try to get everybody on it. So now to see it being embraced the way it is, it feels really good and makes you feel like all the work that you put in was paid off,” Akon notes. “I always knew that it was the moment it catches on a record pops in this market, it was gonna be something that's contagious. The rhythm in Africa is just contagious like that. When you look at a lot of people here they don't really understand why that rhythm is in their soul in their blood, but it's all coming back from home. I really wanted to associate African Americans to come back to Africa through music and eventually learn the history and kind of update themselves on their whole culture and why it's so important to reconnect with Africa.”
Also, Akon reveals he’s slated to go on a global tour that will hit Australia first, then stopping at the World Cup and Africa after that, including stops in Ghana and Nigeria. Then in early 2023, he plans to do a United States arena tour. Tickets are on sale now here.