It's well-known that many artists in the hip-hop world embellish and exaggerate their pasts in hopes of gaining street credibility. 50 Cent, The Game and even Jay-Z have been questioned about the street tales they spit about in their pasts. However, one artist, in particular, who has been able to back up his past recounts, is Akon.
Akon, who named his label and company Konvict, has long told a story of a criminal past riddled with arrests, years in prison and high speed car chases. In past interviews, the singer has made it clear that he headed "a notorious car theft operation" that specialized in boosting Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Mercedes, owned four chop shops catering to "celebrities and drug dealers," and had frequent run-ins with the police.
His criminal career was going good until his crew ratted him out, resulting in Akon doing a three year stint in prison, where, according to Akon, he "fought almost every day for two years," before becoming a "champion" over other inmates because, "I knew where to hit you to knock you out, so I didn't fear you."
Well, in a quite revealing report from TheSmokingGun.com (TSG), it looks like Akon, too, fabricated his past quite a bit, helping him create his "Konvict" image, which was launched with his first hit single, "Locked Up," about his imaginary stint in the prison system.
TSG uncovered -- via police, court, and corrections records -- that Akon's rap sheet does, in fact, include a half-dozen arrests, but none of which mirrors the stories he's maintained while describing his past. His record only boasts one felony convict, from gun possession, in which he pleaded guilty and received just three years probation.
The one arrest in 1998, which has been wildly exaggerated and turned into a big criminal case by Akon was for possession of one stolen BMW, resulted in the megastar being held for months before prosecutors dropped the charges, and not years, as he's said in numerous interviews.
As reported by TSG, the singer told VH1 in February 2008, that he carjacked people, and "used to literally snatch cars from people. And they would be traumatized for months," and these crimes "landed him three years in prison for carjacking."
TSG, however, reports the real story behind his allegedly crimes and prison story. In September 1998, Akon was charged with handgun possession and receiving stolen property. He posted $3,500 bond and was free.
While free, he was arrested just two months, when an officer on a stakeout caught Akon by accident in the aforementioned stolen white BMW. According to a TSG interview with Detective R.L. Brewer, he followed Akon until two uniformed backup officers arrived and pulled over the BMW 740, and then he was taken into custody "without incident." The singer was booked into the DeKalb County Jail, where bond was set at $20,000, which he could not raise.
Akon spent five months in jail before the charges were dropped and he was released. That's the actual story, according to police, about the arrest and time in jail.
Here's how Akon has told the story. As he explained in a DVD interview, he was "going up 78 headed toward DeKalb" when he was surrounded by police cars. When he was finally stopped after a high-speed chase, officers -- with their weapons drawn -- ordered him out of the car, and "locked me up."
In a different account of the arrest, via a November 2006 Rolling Stone interview, he said he was "driving a BMW 325, on my way to the chop shop" when he was arrested. "That's the slowest car in the whole fleet... I'd been in high-speed pursuits before and always got away, but this time I didn't because the car was too slow. I didn't even want that car, it was a favor to someone else. And I wound up getting locked up for three years."
The alleged stolen car, however, may not have even been stolen by Akon at all, recounts authorities. Police told TSG that three months prior to the arrest, the car was stolen.
FBI Agent Peter McFarlane, who was involved in the case due to forged documents found in the BMW, laughed when TSG asked about Akon's claims of running a "notorious" auto theft ring and being involved in other high-end criminal activity.
"Ah, this is bullsh**," he told TSG. "This guy is so phony. He's an arrogant SOB... I don't think he had any role besides [wanting] to drive a high-dollar vehicle. And I say this because we didn't link him to any other cars."
The full story, complete with documents and video clips, as well as more about his past can be viewed at TheSmokingGun.com.
While his back story is definitely false, it's hard to say how this will affect the singer's career today. He's already amassed platinum sales and seems to turn almost every song he's featured on into a hit.
However, like most rappers in the industry, his street tales are just that -- a fairy tale.