Brand | Akon | 22nd November 2021 | Virtual Wire
Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam & Faheem Rasheed Najm are best known to the world as Akon & T-Pain, respectively.
Akon is a Senegalese-American, singer-songwriter, producer & record label executive/CEO of Konvict & Kon Live, who was born in St. Louis, Missouri & T-Pain is a rapper turned singer-songwriter, producer & record label executive/CEO of Nappy Boy ENT from Tallahassee, Florida. In fact, his stage name T-Pain stood for “Tallahassee Pain!” Akon had bounced around the music industry for a while before his debut hit single called Locked Up from his debut album Trouble in 2004. T-Pain would record a remake of Locked Up & that is how he got Akon’s attention & would end up signing to Akon’s new label, Konvict Music.
In 2005, T-Pain would make his debut with the Top 10 hit single, I’m Sprung from his debut album titled Rappa Ternt Sanga, which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Music fans, critics & executives thought that Akon & T-Pain were fly-by-night successes that just got lucky with their 1st singles, little did we all know, they were just getting warmed up & were about to DIGITALLY DOMINATE the music industry! Akon & T-Pain Conquer the Charts & Bulldoze the Business Model of the Music Industry Akon would release his 2nd album called Konvicted.
The album sold over 4 million copies worldwide & millions more in singles sales with digital downloads racking up HUGE hits like Smack That f/ Eminem, I Wanna Love You f/ Snoop Dogg & Don’t Matter which peaked at #2, #1 & #1 respectively. He also featured on other hit songs like Young Jeezy’s Soul Survivor(#4), Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape(#2), Bone Thugs N Harmony’s I Tries(#6), DJ Khaled’s We Takin Over(#28), Kardinal Official’s Dangerous(#5) & David Guetta’s Sexy Chick(#5). He also won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Artist.
T-Pain would release his 2nd album Epiphany. The album sold about 2 million copies worldwide & millions more with digital downloads for his huge hits such as Buy U A Drank f/ Yung Joc(#1) & Bartender f/ Akon(#5). Like Akon, he also became the go-to guy for collaborations. He was featured on MASSIVE hits such as E-40’s U & Dat(#13), Bow Wow’s Outta My System(#22), R.Kelly’s I’m A Flirt(#12), DJ Khaled’s I’m So Hood(#19), Plies’ Shawty(#7), Baby Bash’s Cyclone(#9), Chris Brown’s Kiss Kiss(#1), Kanye West’s Good Life(#7), Flo Rida’s Low(#1), Lil Wayne’s Got Money(#10), & Jamie Foxx’s Blame It(#2). T-Pain would go on to win numerous awards including 2 Grammys for Best Rap Song for Good Life with Kanye West & Best R&B Duo or Group for Blame It with Jamie Foxx.
With all of Akon’s success, the biggest business deal he made in the music business was signing a brand new Mega Pop Star named Lady Gaga to his label Kon Live in 2008. She would release & re-release her debut album The Fame & it would go on to sell over 15 Million Worldwide. Akon would go on to jokingly announce a semi-retirement from music after Lady Gaga’s success. T-Pain also would enjoy the fruits of his labour. He was often teased & ridiculed at the beginning of his career for using a vocal enhancing effect called Auto-tune, to help with the pitch of his singing voice. However, at the end of the day, he would get the last laugh, as countless artists would use Auto-tune, even the artists that harshly critiqued T-Pain for doing so.
According to T-Pain himself, the creators of Auto-Tune would make T-Pain, the face…or better yet, The Voice of Auto-Tune & paid him quite handsomely for his influence & impact & even renamed it The T-Pain Effect in the Pro Tools Programming Preset. There was even an Auto-Tune Microphone that T-Pain promoted on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show. On top of all of their success & accolades listed, one can argue that Akon & T-Pain, the artists that record label executives once thought were going to be “here today, gone tomorrow”, “One Hit Wonder” artists, those same executives enforced a certain type of record deal called “360 deals” for artists who they felt had the potential to be “the next T-Pain & Akon”, so the artists were contractually entitled to profit from any & every stream of income from promising artists, including, record sales, singles sales, ringtone sales, merchandising, movie roles, brand partnership deals & tour earnings.
Billboard ranked both Akon & T-Pain among the Highest Selling Ringtone Artists & the Biggest Digital Download Artists of the 2000s. To sum up their impact on the music business, they created a lane in the Ringtone & Itunes Digital Downloading space that neither recording artists nor record executives were actually aware of before Akon & T-Pain’s arrival on the music scene. So from that standpoint, that makes Akon & T-Pain underrated pioneers, trailblazers & extremely astute businessmen that were ahead of their time. For that, they should be commended & saluted for their brilliance.