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Akon’s ‘Konvicted’ is guilty of mediocrity

Tae Andrews | Thursday, January 18, 2007

After the great success of his single “Locked Up” in 2004, the real question now is, who let Akon back out again?

Out on parole with the release of his second album, “Konvicted,” the whiny crooner is guilty of creating an uninspired album sure to elicit as lukewarm a response as the R&B artist’s ill-fated appearance in Notre Dame’s The Show during fall 2005.

Depending on the listener’s personal point of view, Akon’s nasally voice can be considered either annoying or whiny. Regardless of the choice description, it is an irritating and tired gimmick that gets old even after a few minutes, never mind a few songs.

At his best, Akon should be reserved only for use as the occasional hook on someone else’s single. At his worst – well, if you’re intrigued, or just don’t mind wasting a few bucks, pick up the album.

The only certainty about Akon songs is that they are bound to be depressing. The creative genius that brought the public “Lonely” continues to build on his career portfolio of mournful songs in “Konvicted,” cementing his status as the Eeyore of the hip-hop world.

Akon paints a rather dreary picture throughout the album, and his “glass half empty” mindset pervades the entire disc. Halfway through the album, Akon’s synth-heavy pop vocals beg the immortal question, “Would you like some cheese with that whine?”

To make matters all the more confusing, Akon cannot seem to decide if he is condemning or glorifying the world of hip-hop – one moment he is lamenting life on the streets, and the next he is bragging about the bullets-and-babes ethos of life as a gangster. Akon’s street cred is somewhat suspect as well.

Sure, he drops enough four-letter words to slap a PARENTAL ADVISORY sticker on the front of his disc, but his whiny voice and general demeanor bring to mind the image of Dashboard Confessional trapped in the body of a young R&B singer. In other words, Akon is the pioneer of an entirely new genre of music: emo-hop.

Much like in his previous album, “Trouble,” Akon is rescued from himself by a few extremely catchy beats, some guest spots and a couple of club bangers. Said bangers include the chart-topping single “Smack That,” a naughty track about the finer points of dance-floor spanking, and the sultry “I Wanna Love You,” featuring the lyrical talents of the one and only Snoop Dogg.

Akon also teams up again with the rapper Styles P on “Blown Away,” the first radio single off of the album. Unfortunately, it is no coincidence that the three best tracks all feature other artists. Akon appears to suffer from Nate Dogg syndrome – he is much better off with his name after the word “featuring” on track titles than before it.

The only convincing thing about “Konvicted” is that Akon can’t carry an album himself and should stick to guest spots.

Fortunately, Akon’s new pop-happy faux hip-hop album will in all likelihood rattle around dance floors and college campuses for a few weeks, before it slips and swirls its way into the cesspool of forgotten songs that no one cares about.