Akon once declined to sign Drake
(Credit: Wikimedia)

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Akon once declined to sign Drake

Senegalese-American singer Akon was a staple of the early-2000s. With hits such as ‘Locked Up’ and ‘Lonely’ the vocalist (real name Akon Thiam) had several number-one hits and his 2006 album, Konvicted, debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.

However, as well as being an artist, Akon is a businessman and has helped several well-known figures launch their career. His labels Konvict Muzik and KonLive have been home to performers such as T-Pain, Kardinal Offishall, WizKid and Lady Gaga. But few know that the mogul once had the opportunity to sign Drake.

In an interview with DJ Vlad for Vlad TV, Thiam explained how he was presented with the opportunity and why he declined. Recalling the initial meeting, the vocalist stated, “Kardinal Offishall brought him to me back in like 2005 I think it was. Or was it ’04?”

He continued, “It was right before ‘Best I Ever Had’ blew up because it was like more mixtape-ish. And at the time, believe it or not, Drake sounded more like Eminem. With that demo that I heard? He was sounding more like Em. But I think that was around the time when… That’s every artist developing. You can see the difference between that demo and ‘Best I Ever Had.’ It was completely different.”

Akon decided to pass on Drake as he was still developing, but by 2009 it was too late for Thiam as the Toronto native had exploded with the help of Lil Wayne. Remembering what his friend Kardinal Offishall said to him, Thiam recalled, “That’s when Kardi was like, ‘Nigga, I told you this nigga was gon’ be the shit.’ I said, ‘Well shit, reach out!’ He said you can but the slowest bid right now is a million.’ I said, ‘Shit, I ain’t got a million dollars.’”

Akon did manage to secure Lady Gaga prior to her emergence on the mainstream and her debut album, The Fame was released by KonLive Records. Her sophomore project, The Fame Monster was also released with the help of Akon.

Although Akon never got the chance to sign Drake, he’s currently using the money he does have to help his homeland with various initiatives including Light Up Africa as well as Akon City. The first African city with a cryptocurrency-based economy. You can hear the singer speak about his encounters with Drake below.