For those who are starting to grow tired of Akon’s constant appearances on singles, which is probably most of you, his new album Freedom will well and truly push you over the edge into eye-rolling irritation.
The first five tracks on the album are not even really urban; they are dance-pop numbers. They all have the same sound and are lyrically repetitive and mostly insignificant. The single, Right Now Na Na Na, is as pointless as the title suggests.
The album only slightly improves with its sixth track I’m So Paid which is the second single and features Young Jeezy and likeable gerbil Lil Wayne. It is the token I’m-gangsta-and-I-got-money anthem that has basically become a hip hop requirement. However, it does posses a catchy beat. Following this is Holla Holla, a collaboration with the other artist that might have given us too much of a good thing, T-Pain. You would think the two chart toppers could come up with something a little more inventive. The track is skip-worthy and the hook gets annoying.
On a first listen Against The Grain is a stand-out, however its subject matter is questionable. Akon is heart-broken when he sees his girl on a pole. On his previous album, a #1 chart topping track more than suggested it made him want to “love” her. The audience sympathy levels aren’t likely to reach an all time high on this one. Sunny Day is decent, and features Wyclef, though it’s probably not single-material. The final song is Freedom, the autobiographical tale about leaving Africa. It is meaningful and well-written but the beat is only mediocre. Still, it’s one of the better songs featured.
Akon is no new-comer or amateur. He has three studio albums, his own clothing line, two record labels, a charity organisation and has featured on hooks for over 150 songs by both established and emerging artists. He is following in the steps of Diddy and 50 Cent and is a businessman as well as an accomplished singer/songwriter.
It’s possible that like many other successful artists, for example Eminem and Ashanti, Akon’s music relies on his hardships and the positive songs don’t work as well. Locked Up is probably his best song to date and it is about his time in prison. Freedom, with its attempted dance/R&B genre, is mostly fluff and fillers with no real substance, and though it might find its way into commercial R&B /house clubs, its life is limited.
Available through Konlive/Universal Music