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Friday, July 27, 2007




"Trouble" is about right.

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Chosen by Akon as the title of his 2004 debut album, it's something that seems to often follow the American-born, Senegal- raised singer. Prior to starting his music career, he was incarcerated for car theft. And twice this year already he has narrowly avoided run-ins with authorities for onstage incidents: One involved him simulating sex acts during an April concert in Trinidad with someone he believed was a consenting adult but turned out to be a 14-year-old girl. The other took place in New York when he lifted a rubbish-tossing teen who had been brought up on stage over his head and casually threw him back into the crowd. Police investigated both situations, but did not press charges.

Currently one of the hottest names in urban music, returning to prison is obviously something Akon wants to avoid. Even so, his gangsta rap (and R&B) influences are prevalent on his sophomore effort, last year's "Konvicted," as he crooned lyrics peppered with references to sex and street life. With sales of more than 4 million copies worldwide, the album's success has, in time-honored style, allowed Akon to launch his own fashion line, Konvict Clothes and label Konvict Muzik.

Despite recent legal problems, Akon must not be a bad guy at heart: He uses Konvict Muzik to educate and offer employment to reformed inmates who are having difficulty finding work; he's also started Konfidence Foundation, a charity to help underprivileged children in Africa, took part in Live Earth New York, which aimed to raise awareness about global warming, and recorded "Sorry, Blame It On Me," a new song apologizing for the Trinidad incident. Perhaps it'll make it into his set during his Tokyo gig. Audiences members might want to be on their guard just in case.

Akon plays Aug. 6, 7:30 p.m. at Zepp Tokyo; tickets are 7,000-10,000 yen yen. For more information call (045) 505-0010 or visit www.bmopositive.com

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