Sure, Akon has a new album coming out this year. But thanks to Lady Gaga, he doesn't really need it — financially at least.
"She's pretty much retired me," the singer said of Gaga, who is signed to his KonLive imprint at Interscope Records. "She was definitely a blessing. She came at the right moment. I'm glad I believed in her, boy. That goes to show you, if you believe in something strong enough, it will pay off."
Gaga, one of last year's top-selling artists, was dropped from at least one major record label. She was available just as Akon closed his deal with Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine, the Senegalese singer said in a recent interview.
"And I was like 'Yo, I want to sign that right there. She needs to be under my umbrella,'" Akon said. "Jimmy was like 'Yeah, whatever you want. Take her. Let's get it done.' And she just blossomed into a super megastar, man."
Gaga is one of several artists to be featured on Akon's next album. Others include Dutch dance DJ-producer Chuckie and David Guetta, the exuberant French producer behind The Black Eyed Peas' smash "I Gotta Feeling" who recently collaborated with Akon on "Sexy ..."
Akon says he's not the only one energized by the merging of Euro house beats with American R&B melodies and hip-hop rhythms.
"You've got some straight hardcore hip-hop guys actually moving into the dance realm," Akon said. "And that's shocking. When you've got someone like Dr. Dre about to do a dance record ... that's crazy."
As for his next CD, due out sometime later this year, the sound is even more expansive than his third album, 2008's "Freedom," Akon says.
"It's on a whole 'nother level," he said. "We named it 'Stadium,' because it's one of those records. We're going to do straight stadium tours overseas with this record."
"I forgot how popular I am," he explains. "I started to realize the kind of arena that I'm playing in. Before, you could just do whatever you want to do onstage and it's entertaining. Now, it's not quite entertaining."
Akon isn't just sticking to music, though. He's moving ahead with a feature film project that he would star in, saying: "I just want it to be a movie with a great story, great cinematography, to a point where people are like 'Wow, that was great. I didn't expect that from him.'"