In a recently published article Akon Delivers New Album AKONDA, it was reported that Global icon Akon is reconnecting with his West African heritage to release an album Akonda, his fifth studio album under his Akonik Label.
This album is an Afrobeats-influenced, ten-track release, which features “a slew of emerging stars from Nigeria and other African nations, including Olamide, Kizz Daniel and Skales.”
While “Low Key” is reportedly the album’s lead track, it is the following two tracks that captured my imagination and raison d’etre for this article: Track 8 entitled “Kryptonite,” and Track 10 labelled “Wakonda.” You need to listen to these clips to appreciate the homecoming.
Picture this – ‘Wakonda’ is a Black Panther-referencing parody of the UK sensation at the forefront of the flourishing ‘Afrowave’ sound, Afro B, with the hit ‘Drogba (Joanna)’, a track that is currently in the Hip-Hop Singles charts Top 10.
Akon has been acknowledged by Forbes, having been previously ranked #80 in the ‘Forbes Celebrity 100,’ and #5 in the ‘40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa’ list. He also clocked in at #6 on the list of ‘Top Digital Songs Artists of the Decade’.
Looking back at my 2011 article “Marketing Senegal through hip-hop – a discourse analysis of Akon’s music and lyrics” assessing the man, his diasporic chords and the place marketing of Africa in general and Senegal in particular, I must say that I am pleased with the following highlights.
It was by no accident that Akon was recruited by PepsiCo for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa through a charity single – Oh Africa!
Future research may need to consider how to leverage the potential of celebrity endorsement or partnerships in place marketing strategies.
In an article I published almost a decade ago, I sought to highlight hip-hop’s contribution to the entrepreneurship and place marketing literature from the lens of an individual artist, Akon, whose music and lyrics ? a “hybrid of silky, West African-styled vocals mixed with North America’s East Coast and Southern beats.” In so doing, I relied upon a “discourse analysis” of the lyrics from two non-chart songs Senegal and Mama Africa, which provided the conceptual base for a better understanding of the fusion of music and entrepreneurship with place marketing.
In my findings a made an audacious claim that “through music, Akon has bridged socio-cultural (ethnic cuisine, immigration and social exclusion, faith or spirituality) and economic attributes (notably remittances) – with implications for entrepreneurship and place marketing.”
I also argued that my study “demonstrates that music and entrepreneurship can be extended to place marketing using discourse analysis.”
The latter point is noteworthy as, “Away from music, Akon pioneered the Akon Lighting Africa project, which aims to provide electricity by solar energy in Africa. Founded in 2014, the project has provided electricity in 14 African countries, employed over 5000 people and reached 1 million households.”