Using Influence for Social Good with Akon


go oh there we go all right so one thing
I guess I’ll disclose to the audience first is I mean I’m a reporter just
interview people all the time but what I’m not doing today is interviewing you
I just want to have a conversation with You just want to talk. Let’s just talk bro they said it was a fireside I don’t see the fire but I’m
with the vibe I feel like it’s kind of cold in here right cold for a fire side
nonetheless I know that there is a wealth of knowledge sitting right beside
me ladies and gentlemen and and I would just you know implore you to just share
and give us whatever you have to offer it and and I’ll just we’ll just gonna
chop it up. Now a lot of the things that you’re working on now are going to bring
us back to Africa and in terms of the conversation so I guess what I want to
do is I want I want you to tell us what initially excited you about remaking
Africa. Well I mean there was a number of things that excited me about Africa
mainly being I’m African you know say you know my father was a very he was a
forward-thinking man and he made sure that me my brothers my sisters were all
born in the States so we wouldn’t have immigration problems coming back and
forth so whenever my mom was pregnant here fly her in will be born and he ship
was back yeah so I was in the States till I was about 12 then I came I mean
an Africa club on 12 and I came to the States went to school and every summer
we go back home you know for vacation and school start we come back to the
station and after high school I decided in the States but I realized after 18
years of going back and forth to my mom and grandparents and all you know that
neighborhood will his race nothing really never changed in Africa
it was the same neighborhood same villages same lifestyle same struggle
same everything and I couldn’t really understand because only the politicians
actually had nice houses and droving amazing cars and lived in areas where
there was electricity where the rest of the population
you know lived in areas where there were no clean water there was no electricity
the civilization there was like really poor and living in the US I kind of got
really spoiled so when I go back to visit my grandmother I’m trying to take
a shower in hot water and there’s no faucet for that matter and when I needed
water you know I was walking my aunt to the well and we get the water she put on
her head I try to carry it because my head and my neck was too weak and you
know that’s another thing too by the way the women in Africa is so strong I mean
they hole buckets dish bigger water and literally put it on their head with no
hands and just walk like it’s nothing and I could barely pick up a bucket that
was half the size so I just realized I had to be a change you know and coming
back into Africa also started with that change there was also a huge possibility
and it didn’t wherever there’s a huge possibility there’s just huge advantages
so I looked at it from a standpoint oh let me figure out a way that I can be a
part of this developing the country because I fast forward 15 years after
that I became you know this huge artists heavily popular and met so many powerful
people so I said let me utilize all these relationships and figure out who I
can partner with what things I can create and how I could be an advancement
to Africa and I utilized that those resources and it became more of a
philanthropy thing in the beginning and then the philanthropy just became a
for-profit business that just helped to people so I realized at that moment I
want to get in a business that helped people so I became more of a social
entrepreneur and that became a goal ever since but I
wanted money made to be made in Africa and utilized that money to rebuild
Africa in that process sure so I heard as I was doing my
research preparing to chat with you I heard someone speak about a Conda
what is it Conda so a Conda is my album it started as the see when the movie
will conduct a mout it kind of gave everybody the opportunity to see the
potential what Africa could become right and I always felt like there had to be a
narrative that was given back in kind of combat the previous narrative before
Wakanda you know Africa was this huge village it’s nothing but poor people
there with aids and Ebola and it was so scary just to think about Africa and we
look at african-americans and how they were raised in America with no African
history no you know opportunity to explore what Africa could be for them
and all the challenges that they would have to even face to even get on a plane
to get to Africa with the shots and all kind of is just scary right I start
about it and I said this could be the narrative I actually can ride on for a
second because it kind of combat it the previous narrative that Africa was that
negative place and me being in Africa all the time and seeing how Africa has
evolved in Seoul in so in such a huge way I said there’s a way that we could
play on that and I said that would be the vision and the concept but it be my
vision in concept okay you know so I called it a condo and a condor came from
the concept of creating all virtual digital cryptocurrency like city and
that became a concept that now we’re materializing this actually started
breaking ground in March which is gonna be the first crypto city in all of
Africa so first first crypto city in all of
Africa I mean this well probably now we’ve been again porto rico doing
something right but we’re like the second in the world where we’re in
Africa is in Senegal okay yeah in Senegal and then we’re gonna branch off
into gamba as well so I guess I kind of want you to just describe it though
because I want people I guess I want people to understand why they should be
interested in working in Africa building in Africa using their tech whatever it
is that their skills are and how those can be utilized in Africa as well
well the advantages Africa’s dad is a clean slate every developing market in
the world has gotten to the point where they’re at it’s stressful and it’s
nowhere else to live or build or grow for that matter so when you look at
Africa and Africa has all the resources that created the development for all the
developing markets today it’s in a position where still plentiful of every
resource that’s been already given out and it’s still yet a wide-open campus to
do whatever you want to do like who would’ve ever thought that and this I
could have had never done in the United States where I can actually create my
own utility company it’s impossible that I would go into the US and have my own
energy company like just that’s just unheard of imagine me trying to set up
my own energy company here in Canada they probably kicked me packing back
past the door border it’s just no way they will not let me in whereas in
Africa it’s a wide open playing field if you have the knowledge you have the
partners you have the finances you have the means and the program that you could
put around that actually makes sense the government will back you to do it
because the need is still there right whereas here it’s already been you know
it’s it’s it’s like a triangle and it’s only a group of people that control that
market and you’re not getting in you know so when I go back home and I think
about all the things that’s that that’s available there and all the
opportunities that’s just just just low-hanging fruit it’s it’s honestly if
you’re a businessman or you think of advancing in any kind of way you would
know that the next best place to invest is in Africa 100 percent sure again we
got to talk about a coin have you guys heard of a coin yet
yeah so some some yes some no so tell us what eight point is where it started and
where it’s headed well acorn is gonna be the beginning I
think what any developing country you have to have a financial mechanism that
allows people to trade you know and in Africa when you look at there’s over
fifty four countries and they all have their own currency and none of the
currencies the none of them are stable or they’re actually being colonized or
they’re utilizing either the Frank Frank model which is the French or you know
these are not Dutch model or even the UK model for that instance and the dollars
have never been stable even though you have all those resources to back it up
so what a coin is gonna do is pretty much create first of all the simplest
way to transact and right now is you know the best way to transact in Africa
is through mobile phones we’ve always been ahead from a standpoint of mobile
transfer like they’ve been doing this for last 15-20 years before texting was
even there they were already transferring back and forth food you
know I’m gesturing fun yeah transferring funds and this is not even the
smartphone was we were on dumb phones you know Donna saying so we were already
ahead of that so to the point where the population has already gotten used to
creating transactions and making transactions on their cell phone
so the a coin was literally built for digital transactions digital wallets
back and forth but what we ended up doing was creating a platform which
would be a platform for all adaps apps related to crypto so every service that
you can imagine that you need for basic life or a service or medical or health
or education or infrastructure all those debts will be actually on the under a
coin platform and you can utilize every single dab there for your basic daily
life to advance yourself and also create jobs for entrepreneurs and those who
actually have jobs or have ideas that create jobs for others can also create
them same kind of daps and put those on that platform and a
coin will be the transactional you know currency that runs through the whole
system so just imagine if there were an app store
for cryptocurrency that’s what that a coin platform of you so then you would
go if you needed to get groceries you could get the grocery app is that how it
works yes yeah so I mean this can people that’s
not really into tech let’s say hypothetically you just don’t want to
leave the house right and okay cool there’s an app on there that allows you
to be able to pick everything you want and they deliver it to you right that
because that will be actually on that be one of the apps and apps on the actual
platform and you pick everything you actually what do you want wouldn’t you
know of course that app hasn’t been developed on an app yet but it will be
right and then Carolee you order whatever you want it’s delivered to you
but it’s actually paid in a coin and if you actually have a coin we actually
have partnership with bit minutes which is one of the biggest digital mobile
transactional systems in the universe they have over four billion phones that
they have access to it so there are direct partners and ultimately most
Africans always transact through minutes or phone credits so now we’re able to do
the a coin platform to turn those phone credits in the actual currency where
they can utilize those phone credits to actually purchase things and be at a
transact back-and-forth on the devices itself sure so for argument’s sake
conversation sick why is that better than let’s say the the the current
currency that they have the different currencies that they have maybe trying
to develop those or make those dollars stronger well that’s how I look at it
the whole world is turning digital right and currency is no gonna be no different
I always compare everything to music I’m ready to move in the beginning of music
you had cold it started with eight tracks right then you got these big old
8-track tapes and then it went from that to vinyl then it went from vinyl to
little small cassette tapes and they went from small cassette tapes to CDs
then I went from CDs to mp3s and and then went from mp3s
now to stream it went from straight analog into digital and that’s what
everything let’s say currency for instance it started all the way at the
back were you a trade cattle you go from a trading cattle to Trading
silver and go you go from trade and silver and go to trading a piece of
paper which is the dollar then you go from trading actual dollar to a plastic
card which is now your credit card your debit card or whatever now you’re gone
from your debit card to mobile transactions where now you got what
Apple pay Apple pay also everything is turning into digital it’s gonna go from
the Alba page to all that – what cryptocurrency so if you don’t see the
evolution changing into the future I mean I don’t know what to tell you so hmm okay so then how does that work I
guess then for travel is I think one of the most important things whenever I
hear you talk is there’s an advantage that you’ve had by making those trips
from North America back to Africa you it opened up your mind to how this world
really looks and how this world really works so with that in mind that travel
is something essential for development and understanding even empathy how does
how will a coin support that or how would that work for people that want to
move around the globe well that’s the thing you know the a coin was built
around a global concept being the fact that I traveled so many places I mean
from Africa to India to Australia to America to Europe I see the same
problems the same issues same challenges but I was more focused on the developing
side of all those countries and a coin was built around a global concept so
clearly it’s a coin could easily be the African coin or it could be the Asian
coin hmm or it could be the Australian coin or it could be the American coin so
it’s it’s literally built to create challenges I mean uh solve problems for
whatever challenges you have but more so to digitize anything that allows you
to be able to live better or to enhance the way that you’re living now mainly
through the process of just natural transactions so when you look at the
currency system most of the biggest projects are all starts with concepts
and an idea in a dream right but then without the financial aspect of it it
never materializes them to actually real you know concepts but ultimately when
people utilize those networks amongst each other they all come together and
they figure out ways to finance it or they figure out ways to come up with
that concept it always materialized into an actual
project and what we’re trying to do with the Acorn system is allow everyone that
actually have a concept or an idea and create value around that and create that
networking system within those depths and apps to where they can utilize
whatever piece they need to be able to create what that concept is so if you
have a concept that says okay well one day I want to create the biggest
University and where I come from eventually one day the dream is to be
able to go on that a coin you know platform and utilize every opportunity
or people-person or for instance network with or whatever system that allows you
to get closer to it so there may be educational gaps and apps honor that you
can actually communicate with because the whole idea is for everyone to
network right outside of that then you need infrastructure piece someone that
could possibly even build it there’s someone there that actually or multiple
companies there that can build that you communicate would get the information
with right then from there of course naturally you need to have a record
system of some kind of what you call Bible that says okay academic right so
then you got four professors on there that actually that you can communicate
with that can give you that that course or whatever the case may be then you
have management skills and so many different things that what the whole
idea serve whatever component that you’d need to utilize to make that dream come
true that networking system on a coin platform will allow you to be able to
network with those people partner it with them and then the beautiful part
about the fact that it being on blockchain is that it’s all transparent
get all the information you know who’s who you know what you get all the
information right there in front well I’m not gonna go too much further into a
coin because I know tomorrow you’re talking on the creator stage and the
money stage if you guys want more in-depth more information about that you
guys are welcome to go and check definitely cuz we
now tomorrow we’re gonna actually launch exactly what the platform is how it
looks how its operated and you can actually visually see it in real action
so you might want to see that for sure something amazing tomorrow now with
everything that you’re involved in it is it impacts globally and now we were
chatting briefly about one of the songs that I love they just came out with
Benjamin I called it Franklin but but also I wanted to talk to you about your
music and then the the artists that you’re working with right now some
things that you’re excited about oh man the music side of it like I’ve
been waiting to get back to this part forever I got caught up in Africa
obviously for like and didn’t realize how fast time flew cuz did you guys
realize that I’ve the last time I put out an album was in 2008 like exactly
like I’m just thinking in my head I’m like 2008 my daughter wasn’t even born I
do like years ago know like it’s it’s crazy because it seemed like I blink my
eyes opened up in ten years had just flew past me right so and then I said
okay let me start paying more attention to the music side right because that’s
really my passion and of course when you do so many things philanthropy galore
you do some business stuff you success kind of surrounds you start to forget
certain things but you’ll always feel like that’s what one thing is missing
and clearly the music was the part that was really missing for me but and that
was me doing it you know personally but as far as the music industry itself I’ve
been kind of still attached because I still have an infrastructure that you
know that puts artists out that discover new music that creates superstars that’s
feel convict well convict is the urban label okay so
that’s straight Street Records are be struggle convict kind of describes the
struggle to music right and then you have con life which is the pop side of
it you know that’s more focused on fun party pop music so that’s the label that
Gaga was on is that’s the con line right right and then you have like this
see this what I decided to create it me just share my kind of let’s go do what I
wanted right so being the fact that I love music and
I listen to every single genre and I’ve had literally hit records in every
language in every country and a lot of people don’t even know it because of the
fact that at the time when I was doing music it was an analog system you signed
to a label you got played on the radio and if he was lucky to be in that city
you’ll hear me if he wasn’t then you wouldn’t but then when the digital age
came and opened up streaming wise that’s when music became more diverse to the
average person that just listened to one particular genre now you can listen to
all different type of genre and you can go online and discover new music so I
said okay back in 2010 after the World Cup I want
to put out in a series of albums called the stadium which would release five
albums a hip-hop album an R&B album a reggae album a dance music album and a
pop album and it was like too much music now in my mind that was nothing because
I do records every single day still true today till this day
like I do reckon every day because you know singing songwriting like producing
song whereas like my day job right so if I’m not producing or writing for other
artists I’m just writing and producing just for the hell of it right so what
ended up happening was the system at that time just wasn’t mature enough to
put out that kind of record they’re not fast forward to now and the system is
totally different the streaming world is completely open
to that kind of concept because now it’s no longer about radio
it’s about playlist right you’re going Pandora Spotify Google Apple music
Amazon and you can just create your own playlist and decide what you want to
hear and when you want to hear it that’s when I say yo now this concept can
actually work so what I decided you I said okay now I’m gonna put out four
albums instead of five I might have been too much before perfect
I got a hip-hop album and I combine hip-hop and R&B together then I got a
Latin album which I go by the name of el Negrito if you search a con it might not
pop up with a research el Negrito that’s me dog I cannot wait to know it’s this
is crazy so just last week I put out my first single on the ellen a grito
project how many people even know that see but all the Latin people know it so
we put it out and literally within 24 hours we were at 24 know at 15 million
hits on YouTube now this how fast the record is growing
but this one made me realize I made the right decision because I listened to so
many different types of music and love so many different types of music but I
never get a chance to engage all my fans in that specific genre so I said I’m
gonna put out four different albums in the four most popular genres for those
particular audiences so we put out our first record which is called kimono
featuring Becky G is my first Latin single whenever you get on YouTube check
it out cuz I’m you’re gonna get a kick out of hearing me speak Spanish and like
literally singing in Spanish the whole album is in Spanish by the way alright
let’s tell a good either el Negrito and then the hip-hop and R&B that one is
called concrete I’m sorry I changed the name it’s called connection so that
connect album would be coming out towards the end of November and then in
October we got el Negrito we got a Conda which is the afro beat album right you
guys gonna love that already I can’t wait for y’all to hear that right so
between the a condor el Negrito and connect those three will drop in well
before this year then I got Gemma Khan was the reggae albums gonna drop first
quarter of next year so it’s a lot of music for those who listen to every
genre but if you only listen to a one specific genre then you
be able to enjoy whatever John where that is that you have makes you fancy
but I would encourage for you guys and listen to all of it just out of
curiosity I just want to know how good I did knows John was you don’t used to get
him again well I’ll be searching el Negrito as soon as I get off the stage
absent that’s I can promise you that I promise you
um damn this time is almost up already I knew it was gonna fly by I started off
by saying that there’s a wealth of knowledge knowledge sitting right beside
me and didn’t get to any of my notes but the one thing I want to ask you though
for me do you have a mentor and do you and is there a value in having a mentor
at any stage or at every stage of your career that’s actually a great question
because I always had like my dad was always my main mentor right it was like
my pop is brilliant and then my mom she’s my mentor as well too because she
just comes from a different angle you know my mom she makes sure she beats it
into me like I don’t leave without the message she makes sure I get the message
whereas dad is a little more gentle he’s more calm son and in this way mom’s like
so it’s two different methods and they both come from every angle but what I
realized the most outside of my human mentors which is the close family
Mentors I always had a mentor which was just
life because I learn life life I learn from every situation I never take
anything for granted I never take anything personal and I
never ever feel any kind of regret because I always felt like everything
that happens in your life it’s supposed to happen and I feel like
we all have a specific purpose on this earth and I think sometimes we forget
the spiritual side of us you know there’s a lot of things that you wish
that you could change lot of things that you think that you could do better but
I’m here to tell you you can’t change it and you can’t do better all you can do
is do your best because it’s better it’s never gonna be enough and don’t ever try
to outdo anyone else or think that that person is hypothetically doing better or
advance and faster or farther than you because where are you at in your life is
where you’re supposed to because you have to be there to achieve
whatever that goal is or whatever that agenda God has for you and whatever you
do do not make goals according to time or birthdays or moments because things
are never gonna happen when you want it to happen it’s gonna happen when God
wants it to happen so just do the best at what you do continue to do it as hard
as you can and it’s the best you can do it and just know that if it happened in
the way that you didn’t expect it is only because you didn’t predict it it’s
not because you didn’t do your best or you you aren’t good enough it’s just
whatever it is she was doing you wasn’t meant to do that so do what you’re meant
to do no matter how bad you think you don’t want to do it because this may be
cooler but whatever you’re meant to do is whatever you’re the most great at or
whatever you’re most talented that because God gave us all gifts to be able
to you know focus on and when you know that you have a gift and you ignore it
you’re doing a disservice to yourself when you’re doing just services society thank you so much you got it buddy
thanks so much I almost feel like we could have started a whole conversation
right there what but again thank you for sharing
thank you for your offerings I’m sure there’s a lot of things you guys could
probably jot down there’s more ways to see a con he’s performing tomorrow night
as a Hewlett Packard stage and of course it’s on the creator stage and the money
stage tomorrow I’m gonna be fully engulfed and elevate I’m trying to
elevate he’s trying elevator and I don’t forget el Negrito out now so so actually
if people on Spotify beats you know band or any of the DSPs just search or go on
YouTube right now and just good a convict eg and then it kind of take you
to all my or just just you know just subscribe to my youtube channel you get
all the new videos it just makes life easier you know yes thank you sir

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