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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
As told to Rich Pelley

Akon’s honest playlist: ‘The best song to have sex to? Smack That by Akon’

Akon … ‘Oops! … I Did It Again was embarrassing for me to like, because I was hanging around a bunch of gangsters’ Photograph: CBS Photo Archive/CBS/Getty Images

The first song I remember hearing
I don’t know if it’s the first song I remember hearing, but the first song I remember singing was No Woman, No Cry by Bob Marley. I grew up in Senegal and I would sing it on my way to and from school.

The song I stream the most
I’m pretty versatile these days but I would probably say Costa Titch by Big Flexa featuring C’buda M, Alfa Kat, Banaba Des, Sdida & Man T.

The first album I bought
Thriller by Michael Jackson. I don’t think anyone can tell you they weren’t a Michael Jackson fan at his peak. He was just the biggest thing in the globe. He was superhuman – his concerts, his performances, his voice … Everything about him was crazy. I was always saying to myself: “How is it possible for someone to be that popular and talented?”

The song I secretly like but tell everybody I hate
Oops! … I Did It Again by Britney Spears, which would have been embarrassing for me to like around the time because I was hanging around a whole bunch of gangsters.

The best song to play at a party
I guess it would depend on the type of party it is. There are certain songs that are going to cut right through, like I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. There’s just something about the lyrics – “Tonight’s gonna be a good night” – that sets the tone for the whole night.

The song I wish I’d written
No matter what time of the year, time zone or generation, A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke is as still as active and as relevant as if it was written yesterday.

The song I can no longer listen to
Bananza (Belly Dancer) – my first hit single – because it has followed me throughout my career. It’s the one everyone requests. It took almost a year to record to get it to go [away]. Fast forward 20 years and it’s the biggest thing popping on TikTok; it’s come right back around again to haunt me, so I have no choice but to play it live.

The best song to have sex to
Smack That [by Akon].

The song that changed my life
Locked Up is based on personal experience. If you haven’t gone through the experience of getting physically locked up, you have probably gone through the experience of feeling mentally locked up when it’s been hard to make sense of your life.

The song I want played at my funeral
Freedom. No, not Freedom by Wham! Freedom by Akon! I like my freedom better! That song was loosely based on my life but is still generic enough for everyone to understand what freedom means to them.

Akon is touring from 27 to 30 April; tour starts Birmingham.

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