Akon Said He Needed to Bury His African Roots To Grow His Music Career




Akon in an interview with BBC recounted his experiences in the music industry. The middle aged R&B singer who started his musical career in the early 2000s said his producers weren’t interested in other types of music genre particularly Afrobeat.

The USA born Senegalese who spent his childhood between New Jersey and the African country said that he needed to bury his African roots if he wanted to excel in his musical career in the US.

#goosebumbs, “One of the biggest things that I had to actually distance myself from at the time when I did come out, was the fact that I was African,” he tells BBC Newsbeat.

“That wasn’t really something that they could market or promote in that kind of arena that I was actually playing in.”

According to him, he did that because of the financial demands of his business and the need to make money.

However, looking at where he is now, he told BBC news that he’s no longer under much pressure to make money, but passion and love for music are his drive. Hence he is able to include more of an African influence to his songs without the fear of dealing with politics and the likes of it

“Music is not my first revenue stream now, it has dropped down to maybe the tenth,” he says.”

“I can enjoy doing it without dealing with politics, and the music business that comes with it,” he says.

Following his successes, he pointed out that the tracks on his new Afro Freaks EP are a “huge evolution” from his popular tracks Lonely and Locked Up which of course aligns with the type of music he already tried to boost from 2008, a music with a  mix of African and Western influences, but unfortunately it didn’t pull through.

This even led him to sign Wizkid to his own label in 2008.

“I remember back in the early 2000s, when I was trying to market and get Afrobeats in America signed, they thought it was Reggae music,” he says.

“It was one of the things that was so frustrating, trying to get them to understand the African population was so big, and this music will be the future.

“Unfortunately, I got a lot of pushback.”

However, the tides are turning out very nicely today as European success of acts like Davido,”changed the dynamics” for Afrobeats artists, Akon says, and gave them a better idea of how to crack the US.

Adding that leading social media has a Huge role to play “to put the word out”. And I think social media had a huge role to play in expanding the sound of different genres, because we didn’t really have any platforms,” he says.