Today we have global superstar Akon. The American born Senegalese artist has sold over 35 Million albums worldwide, received 5 Grammy Nominations and collaborated with an array of A-list artists from many genres including Lady GaGa, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Daddy Yankee, Lil’ Wayne, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg and many more.

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TRANSCRIPT:

030 Global Superstar Akon on Releasing 4 Albums at Once & Why Women Should Run the World

Diane Foy 0:04
Welcome to Sing Dance Act Thrive, featuring conversations with performing artists and industry influencers on what it takes to succeed in the arts. I am your host Diane Foy and I believe that you really can make a living from your creative talents. As a publicist, podcaster and coach. My mission is to educate, motivate and empower you to thrive with authenticity, creativity, and purpose.

Hello and welcome to episode 030 of Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive!

Today we have global superstar Akon. The American born Senegalese artist has sold over 35 million albums worldwide, received 5 Grammy Nominations and collaborated with an array of A-list artists from many genres including Lady GaGa, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Daddy Yankee, Lil’ Wayne, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg and many more.

In addition to having two multi-platinum albums, Akon has had 27 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and is the first artist to accomplish the feat of holding both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice.

Akon’s global vision is rooted in music but has expanded to include renewable energy.  His “Lighting Africa” initiative put him at the forefront of the Sustainability Movement- an issue that profoundly affects citizens all over the world.

At the Collision Technology Conference, Akon was on various panels talking about Akoin, the cryptocurrency with a vision to stimulate and innovate, revenue-generating opportunities that support and empower youth entrepreneurship, economic stability, and growth across Africa and the world.

Recently, Akon announced the formation of Akonik Label Group, distributed by BMG. The unprecedented artist-founded label group is comprised of four distinct record labels: Akonda (Afrobeats), Akonik (U.S.), Jamakon (Caribbean) and Ke Lo Ke (Latin America). This is the first time an artist has established a global record label group dedicated to multiple genres.

This explains why he is releasing 4 albums this fall with various genres.  The release dates have changed as you will hear him say Aug 30th for all, however, 3 of the albums were just released in October and the 4th is set for December

The audio is from the press conference at Collision. In addition to Akon, you will hear the voice of Akoin COO Lynn Liss and President Jon Karas talking about Akoin.  I asked Akon why 4 albums at once and you will also hear a question from Sharon Fletcher from Blacks Inspire and then at the public, Q&A Akon goes on a wonderful rant about how the youth need to get involved in politics and how women should rule the world.  Enjoy.

Akon and Diane Foy

Akon and Diane Foy

Akon 4:09
Yeah, so if you missed, ultimately we were talking about when we were with Akoin which is the cryptocurrency that we have, that we are creating for Africa. Also and for the other generation to stimulate entrepreneurship or give them a platform to really utilize their craft that gives their mind and value to it, we put it on a platform. We give them exposure and also, customers for them to be really able to take them to the next level. I think we talked about everything except my new album dropping August 30. I know a lot of people was wondering what is this new album coming out? Yeah, so we have four albums dropping at the same time, on August 30. I have a lot of album coming out, I am actually speaking Spanish and I did not even know what I was going to Spanish, so I am doing a whole land now. That Afrobeat album is also coming out, hip hop album is coming out, and then I have a pop album coming out. So you can at least grab [Who are some of the features on these records?] There is too many, whoever, like your favorite artist is on it, trust me, there are 4 albums and features on every record, so I had to do it. Outside of that we also talked about Akonda in Africa innovations added to the new platform that we are coming on board, which will be prepaid energy throughout the rural areas in Africa. And how that actually will benefit towards the new system in which they will use Akoin to pay off their not only energy bills, but all the other bills that they accumulate in the neighborhood and all the known systems in which they are going to loan money, the payback system, traded themselves on, and when they pay, how much they pay, whether they are on time, whether they were early, this given a sense of the customer, if they want to be able to loan, towards them again, whether it is personal loan or business loan, it gives them a great idea of who they are loaning to, and also creates the data of the kind of people that is in that community, age groups, and so on and so forth, pretty much gathered all the data. And then we were also talking about the apps and partnerships with Akoin within that system as well. What really worked about crypto that made me want to get into it for Africa specifically is because I felt like Africa needed it. Because one thing about our local currencies, we have probably over 23,000 different currencies in Africa, you know, talk about how many languages we got to communicate, but it is too many. And they are backed by a resource that they do not control. So the problem with the dollar there, the local currency cost fluctuates up and now but mostly now, so it becomes to the point where the local currency do not even have value in the local market. And that creates a lot of poverty in so many degrees because basically they should be able to afford, they cannot because the dollar is not strong enough to buy something as basic as sugar, milk, and bread. You know, so to create that currency, that now the people decide what has the value. Creates a different kind of dynamic because this is something they know that they can trust and it is something they know that even work towards the home so ultimately it creates a different economy in the mindset. It is like Bitcoin, right? When you purchase that Bitcoin Yeah. Before it was just a conversation. But then at the moment when you say, damn, I just bought a Ferrari with Bitcoin like, and it is not a dollar bill. But it had enough value to use it now to trade that for a Ferrari that cost $250,000 of money that you know exists or it has proven to have value. Yeah, you have a digital coin that you cannot even touch, feel, taste or swallow. And you were able to buy that, you know what I mean? So that just told me that, it is the people that decide what value is.

Lynn Liss 8:27
And it is something very cool. We have been running token of appreciation campaign if you go to akointoa.org and I bring it up and only because you would be gifted Akoins if you give out to make a donation. So then this is normally way to sort of see Akoins for yourself and wait and see what is going to happen. But what has been really beautiful is Africa, in particular, thousands of people have been out to our site, just saying, I do not care what it is going to be worth of the future. I just want to I want to be a part of this movement. I am going to donate a few dollars even all the way up hundreds of dollars and getting behind this idea of again, a digital currency for Africa. So it is proving the point that the market is very, very ripe for something like this. There has been such excitement again, from Africa in particular.

Jon Karas 9:14
The other thing is playing off of the trust, Akon has earned a lot of trust from all that he has done. And having a lot more trust is essential as the local governments rise and fall and inflation makes their currency, less and less valuable all the time.

Sharon Fletcher 9:33
Hi my name is Sharon Fletcher and I have a community platfom that I started called Blacks Inspire to have positive images and talk about progression within the European-African, African-American community. So this coin that you created, which I think is fantastic. It will drive business towards Africa. Is there a way that this will also help on the global level North American, people from the UK contribute to the industry in Africa and connecting even more so our diaspora, the African diaspora.

Akon 10:11
You know it made a great point. And I am glad you asked because when I built Akoin, it was mainly for the diaspora to fuel them, do you follow? But it is showing, what we are seeing is that the Africans have taken a mission to own it, which is even better because the purpose was for Africa to own it. But we needed a field needed engine, and we felt like the Diaspora would be that engine to action., right. So it is actually working both ways, not unlike the fact that the Diaspora is getting more engaged. And it goes back to, you know, his question of how it is promoting African-Americans in America to have more, put more focus in the opportunities in them because what happens is we have been taught so much about Africa to the point where we are afraid about. You know, the African, the local African American [ _________ ] they start shaking, literally afraid, they do not know what to expect. And most of them do not even know that the distance between New York and LA is the same distance from New York to Senegal. And it costs the exact same amount. So it is not like, it is not like is that far away? It is not a 13, 15, 24 hour flight it is literally a six and a half hour flight from New York to LA to Senegal. You know, most of them do not even know that. So, it is to the point where, if people just knew what that opportunity was in Africa, it will change everything, you know, especially African-Americans and I always tell them I know we complain a lot about the American system, but the American system was never built for you. So you could go to a system that is built for you, you can enhance and develop that and you got the support to do it.

Diane Foy 11:52
Hi, I am Diane Foy, and I have a performing arts podcast And as a publicist, I am curious why four albums at once? And also do you have any advice for up and coming performing artists?

Akon 12:08
Oh, absolutely. Okay, so there is a couple of reasons why I decided four albums at once. One of them was I want to do something that has never been done. And every time I said it, everybody said why you crazy why, it is too much music at one time, like, what? Are you crazy? And I am like, yes, I am crazy. But I am not dumb. We are in a streaming world now. See, back when I was selling music, it would have been too much music. If we were selling it from Walmart or BestBuy. You know, from the racks. I agree with you a hundred percent there would not be too much music. But the difference this time is that we are now in the world of streaming, which means every job has its own playlist. So if I do an album in Latin America, that specifically Latin album. That album will be played on the Latin stations and Latin playlist which will not affect the Afrobeat album, which will be on the afrobeat stations and the Afrobeat playlist which will not affect the hip hop album, which would be on a hip hop playlist, and hip hop stations. Would you want to play album which will pop playlists and pop stations so I can release all those four records at the same exact time with a cross-marketing of all the fans that actually support me in different cultures, different languages, and for them to get to the other side. And after hearing that album, those other albums exist and they do not make it upon themselves to go check it out.

21 May 2019; Akon, Global artist & Akoin chairman & co-founder, Akoin, centre, during a Press Conference in the Media Lounge during day one of Collision 2019 at Enercare Center in Toronto, Canada. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile

When it comes to African politics, the younger generation does not have to be involved. And one thing I have realized is that what Africa really needs is more women leaders. Women politics. Now seriously, because women have a different agenda, and they do not think and they do not make it according to power. See, men make decisions about power and control, women when they decide it is about family and stability so their agenda when it comes to leadership is totally different. I do not honestly believe there are more women leaders, more women presidents, more women in powerful positions the world would be such a fucked up place. Like half these wars that are going on wouldn’t be there because a woman would choose to save a life than take a life. Men have all this testosterone, they just want to fuck somebody up. I am sorry to say this but it is true. All this pressure that men had formed, [____ ] and no he cannot do this, he cannot get away with that, you do this, or I am going to do this, is all about. The woman would be like, come on just come and give me a hug. Do not fight for our rights. Just give me a hug we are not that serious, ride along, right? Because that is what is going to calm you down when you are upset. It is always a female friend, girlfriend, mother, sister, grandma, and we calm down. Now imagine if we had that leadership, we will all be a lot calmer. It really would be. But if I can change things, honestly, I would prefer that the Presidents get in the ring and they hash that out. You know, I, problems will be solved if I could get Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in the ring. You know what, take my arm in case you already know. How about we put a glove on you or we put gloves on you and it whoever wins to take it. I guarantee you they will go back and roll renegotiate. Before they give it a ring and fight because they have to physically feel the pain. But what other people are feeling that they employ you position to make a decision that do not need to physically affect you. It also ultimately goes back to African politics. Our presidents when they make the decision, they do not want to feel the physical pain because they take the country’s money, they spend it outside of Africa. they bank it at someplace in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands and Africa is in a position where they are not held accountable for what they do, and the neighboring countries that are supporting them protect them from that, you know it creates a system where the younger generation have to be a part of it. Because we are, we are thinking the Diaspora actually have now not all the resources, models and the finances to go back and change things. But the only way to change African politics is to be a part of it. So the younger generation has to be more involved for anything to change and the women have to be leading it. This I firmly believe as if the women lead it, Africa would change.

Diane Foy 17:06
For links and transcript visit singdanceactthrive.com/030. Thanks for listening to Sing Dance Act Thrive. Be sure to join the mailing list at dianefoy.com to gain access to exclusive bonus content, a weekly newsletter and an invitation to our private Facebook group of purpose-driven performing artists and industry influencers.