Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Akon Freedom review

A review of Akon - Freedom

In the later years Akon has gotten to be a household name for most of the upcoming generation. He has gotten to be where he is by writing, producing, performing music. In addition to his own music, Akon has cooperated with numerous other artists on their music. With his newest release, Akon - Freedom, he is up to three personal album releases. Freedom was originally planned to be entitled Aquitted, but his label, Universal Music, decided for some reason to change the title to Freedom. Anyway, the new title seems to fit Akon well. He has, as you all probably know, done some time for an auto theft, and had some other incidents that didn't exactly put him in a good light.

First things first. Freedom has one big disappointment. The album does not feature the rumored duet with Michael Jackson. A duet that would undoubtedly have been one of the big highlights of the year. What makes the matter even more frustrating is the fact that Akon and MJ actually recorded the duet, but the Universal decided that the track should be put on the final release. I guess the reason will remain a mystery, but the fact that they have worked together gives hope that will do it again some time in the future. Akon has publicly stated that one of his big goals in music is to work with Michael Jackson.

Ok, so let's get on with what actually is on Akon - Freedom. After a few changes in the track list during the past months, here is what was actually released:

1. Right Now (Na Na Na)
2. Beautiful (featuring Colby O'Donis & Kardinal Offishall)
3. Keep You Much Longer
4. Troublemaker (featuring Sweet Rush)
5. We Don't Care
6. I'm So Paid (featuring Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne)
7. Holla Holla (featuring T-Pain)
8. Against The Grain (featuring Ray Lavender)
9. Be With You
10. Sunny Day (featuring Wyclef Jean)
11. Birthmark
12. Over The Edge
13. Freedom

In true Akon fashion, Freedom features several tracks that have guests from his enormous network of artist friends. As you can see on the track list, it includes Ray Lavender, Lil Wayne, Colby O'Donis, Kardinal Offishall, T-Pain and most notably Wyclef Jean.

The thing that hit me hardest when I first listened to Freedom may not be a big surprise; Akon has a great voice. In today's music industry with the focus being more on beats and rhythm, Akon is a breath of fresh air with his pure and clear voice. He is also very good at making that strength count. Freedom is packed with tracks that give him a chance to show of his singing ability. And let that be said, he does a tremendous job.
While his voice and rhythm is fantastic, Akon could use some guiding in the lyrics department. The lyrics never seem to get away from your basic rap/hip-hop theme. It's all about women who he wants to be with, gangsters, money and other standard stuff. To be fair, the Freedom lyrics aren't the worst I have heard, but it certainly left me with sort of an empty feeling.

If you are looking for an album that will hit the club scene hard, look no further. Akon Freedom delivers everything it promised. Akon has earlier said that he would try to direct Freedom more against the "Euro Club" scene. It really does succeed in its mission. There are tons of beats that will make DJ's around the world go crazy. I'm sure you have already heard the pre released singles "Right Now", "I'm So Paid" and "Troublemaker". These tracks are currently being played non stop on both the radio stations and in the clubs. Freedom delivers more of the same top notch hip-hop/pop tunes.

Akon played a key role in the production of Freedom. He is one of those artists who don't like to leave his faith in others hands. In addition to giving the album a personal touch, Akon gets a lot more respect among his fans. It shows that he knows what he is doing, and that he really cares about what is released in his name. When he in addition to taking part in the production himself hires a top notch producer in Giorgio Tuinfort, who has produced for Enrique Iglesias among others, Freedom gets the credibility it needs.

One more thing that really struck me when listening to Freedom is Akon's ability to choose the best fit collaborators for his tracks. They all seem to fit perfectly into the album. As you all know, these are all top of the line artists, and they really deliver in great fashion. The real beauty is that the tracks have been produced/written in a way that gives both the guest artists and Akon himself a chance to shine. The best example would be Wyclef Jeans contribution to the track "Sunny Day". The track itself is somewhat slow, but Wyclef gives it just the little spice that brings both him and Akon into a much better light. It is also refreshing that most of the tracks on Freedom features only Akon. While I love to hear him with a partner, I think an album by Akon should be mostly Akon. It gives the listener a chance to know what he himself is all about.

On this album, I have actually found only two things I don't like. While most of the tracks on Akon - Freedom is good, no album is perfect. The track "Holla Holla" makes me wonder if they had a blackout during production. It is the song that T-Pain contributes on, and consists mostly of weird sounds and a strange beat. To me, it makes no sense for this track to even be on the album. That's the first thing I don't like. The second is that Freedom is a bit too slow paced for my taste. It certainly shows on the track "Over The Edge" which is, if I am nice, boring.

I would have to say that it is probably the best album to date by Akon. Mostly great tracks, refreshing beats, good collaborators and of course Akon himself in top form brings Freedom up to the standard that we expect it to have.

Score: 7 out of 10 for "Akon - Freedom"

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