There is no doubt that Akon has not gone away, he may have disappeared from the charts but he is there in the form of his infamous ‘Konvict Kartel’ label. Having previously signed on Lady Gaga, Akon is quickly expanding his role as a manager, charity worker and performer – is there anything he can’t do?
Self-promotion was evident in the younger artists of the label, who (albeit slightly condescendingly) spelled out their Twitter handles on the screen behind them. Tone Tone, OG Boo Dirty, Demarco, Tre Carter and 1st Broadcast made their appearances to the UK crowd, who were delighted by the fresh faces. The first half of the gig consisted of Akon introducing each of the artists and then performing a song. This was swiftly followed by the Akon classics that brought him the fame he celebrates today. Smack That and Sexy Bitch were the obvious fan favourites but softer songs such as Don’t Matter were still met with equal applause. A disappointment of the night was the omission of Lonely and his song with Lonely Island, I Just Had Sex, perhaps a conscious decision to make sure the night didn’t feel like more of a joke than a serious publicity tour.
The venue was a strange hedonistic playground for the Kartel, Akon was lavishing the crowd with champagne and crowd surfing in various songs. It was a bizarre atmosphere, but one that the audience clearly embraced, with girls screaming to be onstage for the twerking competition and to dance with the rappers. Akon acted the leader in these situations, and casually handed the winner of the competition – who had proved her worth in grinding on him – £100 to take away.
As the collaborative nature of the gig was going strong, it was no surprise that a few covers featured on the setlist. The self-proclaimed afterparty of the gig consisted of a DJ set, a highlight being a rendition of Big Shaq’s Man’s Not Hot, the internet sensation which set the crowd roaring. A strange version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing was met with confusion as it was remixed as a club tune, but it was quickly embraced and before long everyone was singing along.
With the entire crew, out on stage (and the occasional girl), there was a sense of community and fun despite the often chaotic results of many people coming and going on stage. At the end of the night, we were left slightly dazed but reassured that Akon is not just a one-hit wonder of the noughties and there is an immense pleasure in his world of antics.
Photo courtesy of Konvict Kartel