When you’re a consistent hitmaker like Akon, you find yourself being a wanted man in the music industry. Over the last few years, the chart-topping producer, vocalist and music mogul, who also oversees his Konvict Music imprint, has collaborated with everyone from Styles P (“Locked Up”) and Eminem (“Smack That”) to the late Michael Jackson (“Hold My Hand”) and French house music producer David Guetta (“Sexy Chick”). But lately, Akon has had less time for outside studio work due to the unfathomable success of one of his biggest collaborators Lady Gaga.
The continued dominance of the controversial dance-pop phenom—whose acclaimed 2008 debut The Fame is still making noise on the Billboard charts—has delayed Akon’s work with some other pretty high profile acts.
“I was set to do Britney [Spears] and Christina [Aguilera]…I had them both on the calendar, but I ended up canceling all of that because I didn’t want outside things to interfere with what Gaga has going on,” says Akon of the headline-making artist who is also signed to Konvict. “We haven’t decided exactly if we are going to release new Gaga music at the end of the year or early next year because right now she is so saturated. She will decide when she wants to come back out. She has another tour in mid April of next year, so if anything, we would probably line up new music according to that tour so we can get more album sales.”
But while Akon may have slowed down on juggling studio sessions for the time being, he still has time for his own musical pursuits. The visionary is finishing up tracks for his upcoming album Stadium Music set for release later this year. The project’s lead single “Angel” has already been serviced to radio stations worldwide as other tracks include the bass-heavy dance workout “Drop Down Low,” featuring Ludacris; the street-aimed “Give It To ‘Em” showcasing Rick Ross and an as yet untitled record with the incarcerated Big Meech of Black Mafia fame.
“The last one is more of a real life record,” Akon says. “Meech has been my homie forever; he’s talking on the song. The message is to these young cats trying to be street entrepreneurs. It gives them a whole perspective on how that road can actually end.”
As for other Stadium Music tracks, Akon says you can expect some of the high energy, Euro-synth dance style that has become a staple in the current R&B scene; a sound that Akon confidently notes he created with his 2009 cuts “Right Now” and “Beautiful.”
“When I was doing that style of music, I was thinking more of, what is it that has been around for ages that no one in America really pays too much attention to?” he says. “And it was house and electro music. I started doing tracks like ‘Right Now’ and before you know it I ran into David Guetta, who told me how much he loved my music. We got together and that’s when we came up with ‘Sexy Chick.'”
Akon continues: “The fact that everyone is doing that style of music is bittersweet. The sweet part of it is you see how everybody is evolving. But the bitter part is sometimes you want to see artists take a step and create their own sound. There’s no room for creativity anymore. Today’s artist just wants to be successful. But that puts me in a great position because I love to be the guy to set whatever that trend is.”
And what’s the next popular musical trend according to Akon?
“The next step is ska,” he unveils of the up-tempo brand of reggae first made popular in Europe. “After this electro dance feel starts moving, I promise you, I’m going to bring that ska shit back with some hardcore hip-hop beats. Just watch.” —Keith Murphy