Like most people, I got my first Akon experience with Bananza (Belly Dancer), a fresh, original dance track with an infectious beat. The next track that grabbed my attention was the unusual sampling of Bobby Vinton's hit on "Lonely".
Originally from Senegal, Akon (formerly Aliaune Thiam) blends his heritage, his inherited musical talent and the experiences of a troubled youth, into an exciting debut album of hip hop and R&B.
His strength is in the soulful R&B songs, his unique accent giving the lyrics an extra edge, but his rapping isn't too bad either.
Despite the x-rated lyrics on Gangsta (featuring Daddy T. Picklehead and Devyne), it has a compelling driving beat, and is one of the better songs on the album. Other picks are "Locked Up", "Ghetto", "Pot of Gold", "Show Out" and "Trouble Nobody".
The version I have has 15 tracks, corresponding to the listing on the UK album. There are two extra versions of "Locked Up" and the bonus song "Gunshot", which has a catchy Caribbean style chorus.
An excellent debut album from a young man finally on the right side of the tracks.
Amanda Richards, June 2, 2005