Last week (May 1), Akon stepped back into the ring with the video for "Hurt Somebody;" the French Montana-assisted new single off his fourth studio album, "Stadium." The collaboration with his close friend, who was initially signed to Konvict Muzuk back in 2009 before now Bad Boy, was strategically designed to broaden French's reach in the U.S. and internationally, all while kick-starting the promotion for Akon's fourth LP.
VIDEO: Akon Ft French Montana - Hurt Somebody
In addition to representing the struggle within our economic times, Akon explained that boxing-themed "Hurt Somebody" also examines "how we deal with confrontation" and supports non-gun violence as a realistic alternative to more lethal outcomes. "When you have to deal with rage, I would rather you duke it out than shoot it out," Akon urged, hammering home that taking a life can't heal like a swollen black eye.
"Hurt Somebody" is intentionally cinematic. In October, a month after the release of "Stadium" (Sept 2012), Akon will begin working on a film titled, "One More Day," with the video's director, Gil Green. "Everything's in line, the funding's there, we're in the last stages of casting… it's pretty much ready to go," Akon assured The Juice. Like in "Hurt Somebody," Akon will be playing the role of an underdog young boxer from the streets. Currently having conversations to secure a major motion picture release for "One More Day," Akon is considering having the film go straight to DVD to market and promote the re-package of "Stadium" in the future.
While he may not have been as present domestically in the last year, Akon admitted to focusing his efforts outside the U.S. in order to penetrate markets in India and Latin America. He's been enjoying the influx of creativity that comes with traveling overseas, all the while recording.
"Angel," the first single off "Stadium," was initially released through Konvict/Universal back in 2010, but when the music industry endured some rather severe restructuring, Akon pulled the plug. "The labels were all crashing and switching up staff," Akon told The Juice. "There was a lot going on within the industry itself and a lot of changes were being made, so within that process, I kind of decided I wanted to push back until [they] got everything together."
Akon's four year hiatus gave him the opportunity to dialog with his fans. Now fully engaged, Akon plans to deliver the street records that both him and his fans love, starting with his upcoming mixtape, "Koncrete Jungle," set for "later this month [May]."
Although having his fans' wants in mind, Akon is no longer interested in making huge crossover records but instead wants to experiment and "have fun." Earlier this year, he spent time in Jamaica's Tuff Gong studios with Damian, Stephen and Julian Marley, enhancing his sonic repertoire and making "magic" in the same studio that Bob Marley once recorded in.
"It was such an honor to be in that environment and be inspired by it," Akon said. "They had me writing three to four songs a day because I was so amped!" And of the studio itself, Akon seemed astonished: "Nothing's really changed, they kept it exactly how it was."
Aside from the reggae influenced, Stephen Marley featured cut, "Just A Man," on "Stadium," Akon plans to release an all-reggae, full-length opus after finishing "Stadium." "I always said to myself, 'When I get to that position when I can do an all-reggae album, I would love to do it,' and those guys are the best to do it with," Akon said, while hinting on collaborating with the Marley brothers for the album.
Rejuvenated from his travels and secure in a calmer label climate, "new staff, new systems, new energy;" Akon is finally ready to give his fourth album a go. After appearing on "American Idol" and VH1's "Behind The Music," it would appear Akon is setting the stage well for "Stadium," an album that he describes as "a piece of everything... this big, huge event looking to gather people from all over the world."