AKON: Singer or Swine?

Posted on April 7, 2010

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As an artist, Akon has been nominated for several Grammys, American Music Awards, and VMAs. As a celebrity, conversely, the singer has a less than stellar reputation (although it is certainly more respectable than that of Kanye West, whose recent actions have led even the President to call him “a jacka–”).

Akon’s lyrics glamorize serving time in prison, drugs, and promiscuity. At the concert, Akon encouraged students in attendance to use his name as a code word for hooking-up or going home with another person at the end of the night. One also has to wonder if inviting the audience in stadium seating down to the floor was the best idea in the midst of the H1N1 pandemic, especially since there are two reported cases at Boston College as of mid-September.

The singer once claimed to have served three years in jail for grand theft auto, a statement that The Smoking Gun revealed to be a lie. Akon later came out and admitted he served several smaller sentences for various crimes and that his overall time behind bars adds up to three years, though they were not consecutive. Additionally, Akon, a Muslim, had made allegations that he has three wives. It was later proven that he only has one. At the same time, the signer maintains that he has six children by three different women. One of the stranger mysteries surrounding the artist is that no one can prove how old he is. Some media sources argue that Akon was born in 1973, while others say it was 1981. Although age is certainly not a source of controversy, we have to ask ourselves how much we can trust someone with such a secretive, inexplicable, and checkered past.

Perhaps the most wellknown scandals involving Akon occurred in April 2007. At a concert in a 21-and-over club in Trinidad and Tobago, Akon was filmed grinding and dancing provocatively with a girl, who was later revealed to be only 15 and the daughter of a preacher. As a result of this publicity nightmare, Verizon Wireless not only dropped the singer’s ringtones, but also withdrew its corporate sponsorship of Akon’s Sweet Escape Tour with Gwen Stefani. Moreover, the Parents Television Council, Bill O’Reilly, and Laura Ingraham all spoke out against the singer, accusing him of being degrading to women.

Just two months after the video of Akon and the young girl surfaced on the Internet, the singer found himself in trouble again. This time, Akon was formally charged with endangering the welfare of a minor and second-degree harassment after he threw an audience member into the crowd at a show after the concert-goer had allegedly thrown something at the singer.

Unquestionably, Akon’s most contentious disgrace is his assertion that blood diamonds in Africa do not exist. The singer, who purchased part of a legal diamond mine in South Africa in early 2007, insists that the media has manipulated the conflict diamonds controversy. As Akon explained his position regarding blood diamonds in an interview with MTV News UK, saying, “Diamonds is [sic] the least of our worries. All that [attention on the diamond trade] is really to [distract] you from what is really going on.”

Kanye West, who, as previously mentioned, is also known for his outspoken and outrageous antics, is one such person whom Akon believes should not speak out against diamond mining practices in Africa. West even wrote a song, “Diamonds from Sierra Leon,” about the conflict in relation to jewelry as a status symbol for hip-hop artists and rappers.

When faced with these facts, we, the Boston College community, must recognize that perhaps Kanye West, with all of his ludicrous conduct, may have a point about conflict diamonds. We must ask ourselves if an artist who exaggerates his past, publicly assaults his fans, and denies something that has been called “The Holocaust of the New Millennium” is really someone we want performing on our campus.

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