Is Akon Running For President In 2024 — Or Is He Messing With Us?

Photo: Instagram
Is Akon Running For President? His Career, Eligibility, Akoin, Wakanda & Why He Needs Kanye West To Run Too

If Akon has his way, we may all be calling him President ​Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam in 2024, which is quite a mouthful, so now is as good of a time as any to start practicing!

While it's not the first time the Konvicted singer's name has been linked to a run for the highest office in the U.S., during a recent visit to "The Real", the singer confirmed not only that a 2024 campaign "might be possible", but that if he does go for it, he needs Kanye West to run, too.

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While you may think of Akon, 46, as a one-hit wonder or, perhaps, as a minor artist, in truth, he's remained consistently involved in powerful circles as a songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and actor since first hitting the scene in 2003.

A man of many talents, he even has plans for his own cryptocurrency, cheekily named Akoin, and the development of a real-life Wakanda!

Is Akon running for president in 2024 ... or is he messing with us?

Let's take a look at 7 facts about Akon, including highlights of his career, his presidential eligibility and his "masterplan" for the presidential debates.

1. He basically made Lady Gaga happen

Did you know Akon played a large role in Lady Gaga's success? I didn't!

In a move L.A. Reid has referred to as his "famous failure", the iconic producer originally signed her to Def Jam Records, only to drop her after to listening to the demo tape she produced at his request.

When Larry King asked what was wrong with the tape, Reid simply replied, "What was wrong with me?"

She was then taken on by Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records, but set up as a songwriter rather than a performer in her own right — that is, until Akon came along and heard "Just Dance."

"I was like, 'Yo, I want to sign that right there. She needs to be under my umbrella,'" Akon recalls. "Jimmy was like, 'Yeah, whatever you want. Take her. Let's get it done.' And she just blossomed into a super megastar, man."

2. This isn't the first time Akon discussed a presidential bid

Back in 2018, TMZ asked the singer how he would defeat Donald Trump if he were to run against him in 2020.

"I would love to debate Donald Trump," he replied. "Matter of fact, man, that sounded like music to my ears."

In response to a follow up question about who he would select for running mate, Akon stated, "It would probably be Mark Zuckerberg ... Because I think sometimes it takes people from the outside that really see life differently to make differences."

3. Is Akon eligible to be President of the United States?

References to Akon often start by referring to him as Senegalese, which may lead one to question his eligibility for the job.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

Rest assured, Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and while he refers to Senegal as his hometown, he and his family always split time between there and the United States.

And as for his criminal past, you may remember that Akon has claimed to have spent a total of four-and-a-half years in prison, "including a long stretch for his role as the 'ringleader of a notorious car theft operation."

In 2008, however, The Smoking Gun revealed this to be part of a mostly fictionalized persona.

"While the performer's rap sheet does include a half-dozen arrests," they report, "Akon has only been convicted of one felony, for gun possession. That 1998 New Jersey case ended with a guilty plea, for which the singer was sentenced to three years probation. Another 1998 bust, this one in suburban Atlanta, has been seized upon by Akon and transformed into the big case that purportedly sent him to prison (thanks to his snitching cohorts) for three fight-filled years.

"In reality, Akon was arrested for possession of a single stolen BMW and held in the DeKalb County jail for several months before prosecutors dropped all charges against him. So there was no conviction. There was no prison term between 1999 and 2002. And he was never 'facing 75 years.'"

Regardless, while it's doubtful a majority of Americans would get behind a presidential candidate with a criminal record, there is no constitutional restriction that forbids it.

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4. He's grown into a creative activist and philanthropist

Akon had made significant efforts to affect real change in the world. After realizing the extent of the lack of electricity throughout Africa, he created Akon Lighting Africa to address the issue.

“It’s definitely not a charity,” he's said. “It is a for-profit company. The way I would categorize it, really, is just social entrepreneurship. We do our business in Africa that's not [just] to help people, but empower them to make their money in the process.”

He also created an organization called the Konfidence Foundation, "dedicated to empowering youth in Senegal, West Africa and the United States by promoting health and education, and supporting impoverished families."​

5. He's an advocate of musicians going the independent route

Even though Akon has had a lot of success with his own record label, he knows his success is an outlier, not the norm. As a result, he suggests aspiring musicians shy away from actively seeking major record deals if they can.

"In the next 3 to 5 years, the major labels won't exist anymore," he states. "So stop looking for a record deal. You're wasting your time, you're losing money doing it obviously, and you're going to lose control."

6. Not only would he like to take on the top spot in the U.S., he also hopes to create a real life Wakanda in Africa

In addition to sharing a bit about plans for developing his own crypto currency, to be dubbed Akoin, the singer spoke recently of serious political ambitions here in the U.S., as well as his hopes of developing a real life version of Wakanda, the fictional kingdom ruled over by Marvel's Black Panther.

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“Wakanda is something that I one day plan to build in Africa!" he proclaims. "To watch that movie and see the future of what Africa could look like and the potential of what Africa could become, it’s something that is very and totally reachable."

When shown a picture of the White House by a reporter for NME, he remarked, “Now that’s something I’m definitely going to attempt to do before I retire.”

7. He's said he "needs" Kanye West to run against him

During a visit to The Real this week, Akon was asked if he believes he could beat Kanye West, who has also indicated interest in running for the office in 2024.

"I don't think it would be a competition," Akon replied, "I honestly need him to run. I want him to.

"Kanye is not crazy, he just been awakened ... My thing is, if he does run, it’s great for the culture. Now, whether or not you think he’s fit, that’s another thing. That’s why you got me as another choice."

Which brings us back to the picture he painted of his ideal presidential debate during his NME interview — and further proof that Akon is either pulling all of our legs, or he is perhaps the world's greatest Svengali.

“It’s gonna be entertaining, it’s gonna be something worth watching,” he said about a potential debate. “I’m going to go after Trump and Kanye will get offended because he likes Trump and he’s going to go after me. Then I’m going to go after Kanye and then Trump’s going to get offended because he likes Kanye and he’s going to go after me. And the debate stage will be set where it’s all about me. It’s perfect, a masterplan.”

8. Of course, he'd also be cool with an Akon-Kanye ticket

Spotted by TMZ again, Akon insisted, "Anything can happen. To me, it's not a competition, it's a matter of what god wills it to be."

Does that mean he'd be willing to run as Vice President to Kanye's Commander In Chief?

"I would do that," he said. "One thousand percent ... You never know. Anything could happen."

Indeed.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series and is the CEO of the acclaimed G-Force Marketing & Publicity firm, which has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter and has scored film, television, radio, and print placements for celebrity clientele worldwide.