Award-winning R&B and hip hop artist Akon is coming to Castlegar.
He’ll be playing the Element Club on September 15, touring his new, yet-to-be-released album Stadium.
The album should drop next month, but don’t expect a typical release, or a typical album.
“The Stadium album is actually being released on an application next month, and all you have to do is logon to Akon.com, and then you can register to download the app,” explains Akon.
The app will have the first four albums of Stadium. Fans explore the music by choosing the first album they want to listen to, and rack up points every time they listen to unlock the next album.
“The idea was to reward the fans for what they do best, and that’s listen to the music,” says Akon.
While early plans for the album in January listed five albums—Pop, Euro, Island, World, and Urban—there are now just four albums being released initially on the app—Island, World, Urban and House.
“The [fifth] album is an audience fan participation album where they’ll actually be able to create remixes from the four albums previous,” says Akon. “We’re gonna release that one in early 2016.”
The remixing contest for the fifth album will kick off in December, and the vocals will be released on the app for fans to download, remix, and upload back onto the app. Akon himself will choose the winning remixes.
Stadium is Akon’s only new album in seven years, since he released Freedom in December 2008.
Asked why he chose to release a multi-part album instead of multiple albums over a longer period of time, Akon said, “I’ve always been the kind of artist that was pretty much listening to and was inspired by every, you could say, genre known to music, you know what I mean?”
“So I never even looked at music in genres up until a particular point where I got signed to a record company and they kind of separated the sound into something that they could market and promote,” he continued. “For the audience that never seen me perform or haven’t listened to any of my records in any other genre, they can now explore those different types of sounds that I was known for around the world.”
Akon has also been spreading the word about Akon Lighting Africa, a project he started with Thione Niang and Samba Bathily, and launched in February 2014. The goal of the project is to bring electricity to the 600 million Africans who don’t currently have access.
The project uses solar power to setup streets lamps in public places and private household electric systems. The hope is that school children will be able to study and do better in school, that small business will be able to expand, that healthcare will improve, roads will be safer, and there will be greater access to information through the Internet and other communications systems.
Akon and his partners reached their initial goals for the project within six months, and since then Akon Lighting Africa has continued to expand.
“We’re in like 14 countries now. We’re doing all the solar street lamps in all those countries, and we’re doing all the public places, and then we have the home systems, which is more geared to the citizens there,” says Akon. “I mean, I can’t even give you the number of how much has been done so far, it’s so much.”
Asked what Castlegar fans should expect on the 15th, Akon said, “It’s more of an opportunity for me to really engage with the fans, kind of reconnect with them after so long. Have them get to know me more from a personal standpoint. You know, it’s like it’s going to be more of a party than anything, and then of course if there’s anything specific that they may request or may want me to do, that’s the moment where we’ll turn it into a concert.”
This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser the week of Thursday, September 10.