In an appearance on Drink Champs, Akon admitted that he initially fabricated his background and once pretended to be an African prince.
“I kind of used the excuse that I was a survivor because it made me feel better about it. But there was nothing for me to survive. Because my parents were actually really wealthy. I was living in Jersey. We lived in a three-story house, just me and my older brother. We had the whole house to ourselves! Now when I think about it, we were just bored as hell looking for something to do.”
As he was growing up, Akon saw friends around him selling drugs and he never understood why they would put in so much labour for such little financial incentive.
“I think a lot of my choices came from just wanting to be accepted, you know, amongst the crowd,” he said. “So that’s how I got caught into all the things that I got caught into, including cars. Because cars made me feel special. I was young, I can drive with the most elite vehicles, and I ran with the scenario that I was an African prince.”
Akin shared that the inspiration for the African prince scam came after he watched the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America. “After Coming to America, I was like, ‘Shiiiit!’” he explained. “That’s what motivated it!”
He said he was working at a barbershop when a man introduced him to the scam.
“Before you know it, I just copied and pasted it,” Akon laughed. “Literally like every other month I would come to school in a different car, and they were like… I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m an African prince.’ And they believed it because of the whip that I was driving in!”https://www.youtube.com/embed/e4mJMjtavI4
Back in 2010, Akon told MTV on an episode of When I Was 17 that he was a “young hustler” at the time, stealing cars or scamming money out of people.
He told people he was a “prince” so they wouldn’t question where he got all of his money, to which his brother Omar added, “People just didn’t know any better so they believed that we were princes from Africa.”
Akon is no stranger to a good ruse. Last year he admitted that he used to employ his brother Abou ‘Bu’ Thiam to perform as his double when he couldn’t make it to a show.
“Bu was my double. He was my double. This was before the internet. If you saw Abou in one place and you saw me, you couldn’t tell the difference,” he said on The Morning Hustle. Asked if Bu can sing, he simply replied, “No.”