Akon looks the Carib way again

BY KEVIN JACKSON, Jamaica Observer

Caribbean music will be part of Akon’s new Akonik Label Group’s (ALG) plans. It is a partnership with former Motown Records CEO Kedar Massenburg. The American singer’s four companies has secured worldwide distribution with BMG and will sign and promote talent primarily in the United States and Europe.

The Akonik label will focus on the US and Europe, while Akonda targets Afro beat talent. Latin America, inclusive of Mexico and Puerto Rico, will be the purview of Ke Lo Ke label, with Jamakon focusing on Caribbean artistes.

ALG is set to roll out its first releases by next month.

In an interview with Billboard Magazine, Massenburg said: “The public has become the A&R for labels. We’re giving people a chance in other parts of the world that might not be heard. It’s an exciting time as the music industry reinvents itself.”

The publication also quoted Akon: “This is an idea I wanted to do in 2010. But, at that time, the music business hadn’t matured and diversified the way it has, in terms of being open to new genre fusions and not as compartmentalised. We just want to bring a fresh ear and build an artiste-driven company where people can be as creative as they wish without someone telling them what they have to do.”

While at Motown, Massenburg was the main force behind the neo-soul movement that produced artistes such as Erykah Badu, India.Arie and D’Angelo. He was president/CEO at the label from the late 1990s until 2004.

The Grammy-nominated Akon is best known for hit songs like I Wanna Love You, Smack That, Lonely, Locked Up and Don’t Matter. He previously operated the KonLive label, which signed Jamaican female duo Brick and Lace; KonLive was a joint venture with American music executive Jimmy Iovine and Interscope Records.

Brick and Lace’s debut album, Love Is Wicked, was released in 2007.

Akon has collaborated with Jamaican artistes including Stephen Marley (Just a Man), Shaggy (What’s Love) and Beenie Man (Girls and Unstoppable). He performed twice at Reggae Sumfest (2005 and 2008), and the One Love Music Fest in Montego Bay in 2016.