December 1, 2006


Akon is No. 1 and 2 in hearts of fans (Sarah Rodman, December 1, 2006, Boston Globe)

Surveying the halftime scoreboard at the TD Banknorth Garden Wednesday night, R&B star Akon was unfazed that his New Jersey Nets were down by three points. Nor did the razzing that Jason Kidd was taking ruffle his feathers. "He always comes back in the second half," said the singer with a confident smile.

As the Celtics learned in a painful 3-point loss, it's a bad time to be betting against the instincts of the 25-year-old Jersey native.

This week, he managed a music industry feat only three other popular recording artists -- the Beatles, Usher, and Mariah Carey -- have attained: Akon currently holds the No . 1 and 2 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Even though it was just that achievement Akon claims he had in mind when releasing the club bangers "Smack That" (featuring Eminem) and "I Wanna Love You" (featuring Snoop Dogg) in quick succession, he admits to being amazed. [...]

It's unlikely that those who knew the adolescent named Aliaune Thiam (Akon is his middle name) realized he had such an abundance of music in him, or that he would come to so successfully straddle thug-image rap and smooth-crooner soul. "You can't judge a book by its cover," says Akon. "I'm the nicest guy you'll ever meet, but don't take the kindness for weakness. It's not like that."

That said, Akon believes that the misfit who earned his gangsta rep fighting, stealing, and doing time in Newark is far removed from the genial, low-key-for-hip-hop star (his diamond-encrusted medallion and watch are covered by a simple hoodie) who now dreams of the good his charitable foundation will do for Senegal. The West African country is his parents' native land, and the place he spent his early childhood and summers growing up after his parents had moved to the States. On "Mama Africa," a lilting reggae number with a deep bass groove on "Konvicted," he calls on all people, blacks in particular, to visit the continent. "I want to rebuild Africa, that's like my main, main, main thing," he says.

Speaking of which, in his very funny book, Who's Your Caddy?, Rick Reilly loops for Bob Newhart and notes that the great comedian was the only act to place albums in the #1 & #2 spots on the charts for the same year until Guns-n-Roses duplicated the feat in the '90s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2006 8:49 AM

What, no links for GnR?

And the correct spelling is "Dat", yo.

Posted by: John Resnick at December 1, 2006 5:13 PM