Album: Akon, Freedom (Island)
Friday 05 December 2008
Senegalese R&B star Akon may be currently the world's most successful African performer, his own eight million album sales augmented by hit collaborations with the likes of Gwen Stefani and Leona Lewis.
By the time you read this, "Right Now (Na Na Na)" will probably be No 1, and its adhesive Auto-Tune vocal hook one of the most ubiquitous sounds on the airwaves, as the star regrets the split that deprived him of "my homie, lover, friend". The respectful tone continues with "Beautiful", though he does slip into tired hustler boasts for tracks like "I'm So Paid" and "Holla Holla". The latter stages of Freedom are more concerned with reflections upon his former lifestyle, as he mythologises hardships in "Freedom", praises some inspirational force – girl, or God? – for saving him when his life was heading "Over the Edge", and joins Wyclef Jean to reminisce about life in the ghetto on "Sunny Day". The emotive synth arrangements are like funkier versions of early Human League and John Carpenter themes. The key to Akon's appeal is his voice, which has a pleading tone that conveys an attractive vulnerability, but the over-use of the Auto-Tune gimmick, while not as extreme as on Kanye West's new album, begins to render tracks indistinct and interchangeable.
Pick of the album:'Right Now (Na Na Na)', 'Keep You Much Longer', 'We Don't Care'
Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Game of Thrones season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as it’s not him
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures