Upon release from a jail stint, Senegalese-American R&B/dance-pop artist Akon wrote and recorded tracks in a home studio. The tapes led to Trouble (2004), a hybrid of his silky vocals with East Coast- and Southern-styled beats. "Locked Up," a Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 hit, made him a star and desired collaborator; his number of guest appearances multiplied. After Konvicted (2006), Akon's sound underwent a significant stylistic shift, as heard on Freedom (2008), which courted a broader audience with a dance-oriented Euro-pop sound. Despite the change, the album peaked within the Top Ten of the Billboard 200. Akon subsequently collaborated with dozens of artists, including David Guetta, the Lonely Island, and Michael Jackson. ~ Johnny Loftus
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