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Akon Answers 'The Questions' For Okayafrica TV

Akon answers 'The Questions' on Senegalese Mbalax, "lighting Africa" and Nigerian pop music in an interview with Okayafrica TV.


When we found out Akon would be in DC during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit we knew we'd have plenty to discuss. The son of Senegalese drummer legend Mor Thiam and raised for part of his childhood in the "home of Gorée Island," Akon is undoubtedly a key player in the West African pop music market as both an industry head honcho (his Konvict Muzik imprint represents Naija pop stars P-Square, Wizkid, and 2face Idibia) and a featured artist on some of the biggest Lagos club remixes in recent years, including "Chop My Money" and "Dami Duro." More recently he's launched the Akon Lighting Africa Project with the goal of bringing electricity to one million homes in Africa by the end of 2014. In addition to meeting with leaders in Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Côte d'Ivoire this year, Akon brought his solar-powered initiative to DC for the White House's first ever African leaders summit. It was there that Okayafrica TV had the chance to pick his brain about his Senegalese upbringing and his recent endeavors in West Africa. Like, what music did he grow up on? Who's Senegal's all-time greatest musician? How exactly is he "lighting Africa?" What sparked his interest in Naija pop? Who else from the continent is he looking to sign, and is there even space for Nigerian pop in the American market? Watch Akon answer "The Questions" to these and more in the latest episode of Okayafrica TV.

Videographer: Thomas Mobley

Editor: Imani Lindsey

Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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