Singer-producer Akon sat down with People magazine recently to promote his upcoming album, “Freedom,” due tomorrow (Dec. 2), and also touch on his recent collaborations with Michael Jackson and his thoughts about President-elect Barack Obama.
You did some work with Michael Jackson earlier in the year with 25th Anniversary of Thriller. How did you riff off each other musically?
Akon: The collaboration was incredible. From the first moment we actually met each other face-to-face it seemed like we had know each other for years. I was always a big fan, I knew everything about him. It was just astonishing to me that he knew a lot about me, and he was a fan of me as well. We clicked instantly.
What surprised you the most about him?
Akon: How humble and how smart he was. Sometimes you get a certain perception from how the media portrays him, but [working with him] was completely opposite. An artist of that caliber and as big as he is, you would think he would have certain qualities that you probably wouldn’t like, such as being very arrogant or stuck up. With him, it was like he had never put out a record before – he still had that hunger.
Spin reported that you, T-Pain, Nelly and Pharell united to form a supergroup. Is that true?
Akon: This is something that we wish we could do. If it happens, that’s great for the music industry because we’re trying to bring fun back. Whether it can happen realistically, without politics getting in the middle of it, is the question. If it were up to us, the artists, it would have been done already.
Outside of music, what else have you been pursuing?
Akon: Outside of music, I’ve been doing a lot of the label exec thing [at] Kon Live Distribution. The clothing line, Konvict Clothing, is urban streetwear. Then we have Aliaune, which is the more upscale corporate look. Then there’s the Konfidence Foundation where we’re giving back to Africa, creating a better environment for the children of Africa.
Which celebrity would make a good president and why?
Akon: Celebrity? Obama! He’s the biggest celebrity I know. He’s gonna make an incredible president.