For the past decade, Akon has been on a mission to transform his legacy. The onetime purveyor of problematically titled pop anthems—from “Smack That” to “Sexy Bitch”—is now a social entrepreneur and even a potential presidential candidate.
Already, his four-year-old solar panel initiative, Akon Lighting Africa, has brought electricity to hundreds of communities in 15 countries, including Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal, where the St. Louis, Missouri native spent much of his childhood.
His latest bid for world domination saw him launch Akoin, a cryptocurrency he recently half-jokingly swore wasn’t named after him but was a portmanteau of “Africa” and “coin,” to an audience at the One Young World Summit 2018 of youth leaders in the Netherlands. The currency will be powered by blockchain technologies running on smartphone apps.
Off the back of that project is the even more ambitious Akoin’s Crypto City, which Akoin told Newsweek could one day compare with Dubai, which has become synonymous with wealth and indulgence in a region often snubbed by Western tourists. According to Akon, the president of Senegal gifted the organization a 2,000-acre plot of land in the West African nation, a five-minute drive from the country’s international airport that opened in 2017.
Newsweek talked to Akon about his plans for his city and going head-to-head with President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.