According to a new report from Smoking Gun posted on E! online the gangsta-posturing rapper, who has extolled his bad-boy past in hit albums like Trouble and Konvicted, is more hoodwinker than hoodlum.
The investigative site has dug into the rapper's claims, first spouted during his promotion for his 2004 debut, Trouble, that he served four and a half years in a Georgia prison in the 1990s as the "ringleader of a notorious car theft operation" and owned four chop shops frequented by "celebrities and drug dealers." Upon following up with many of the detectives that worked his case, the Smoking Gun reports that the hip-hopster was merely busted in 1998 in suburban Atlanta for driving a stolen BMW and ended up being held in a DeKalb County jail for five months before prosecutors dropped all charges against him.
While rising to the top of the hip-hop heap, Akon told tall tales of getting ratted out by lower-ranking peeps in the underworld, facing upwards of 75 years in the joint, having to fend for himself behind bars as a "150-pound inmate" who "fought almost every day for two years" and being feared by fellow convicts. The stories ended up being fodder for many of his hit tracks, like "Locked Up," which helped him sell millions of albums and gave the 35-year-old emcee the kind of street cred accorded bigger rivals 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and the late masters Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.
While Akon has been arrested on six occasions, only one was a felony—a gun-possession rap to which he pleaded guilty and received three years' probation. The rest were all minor exploits that, aside from the car stunt, did not lead to any significant jail time.
Akon recently touted his fabricated résumé on VH1's Rags to Riches program in February, asserting that he was once a carjacker who "used to literally snatch cars from people and they would be traumatized for months."
While the chart-topping, Grammy-nominated performer, whose real name is Aliaune Badara Thiam, has apparently exaggerated his past misdeeds, he does have his share of real recent troubles. In December, he was arrested and charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child in Fishkill, N.Y., at a June 2007 concert. He allegedly called a teenager up onstage for throwing a pretzel at him and then tossed the young fan headfirst into the crowd. Two months earlier, Akon took lots of heat for having simulated sex with a 14-year-old girl he pulled onstage during a show in Trinidad. He subsequently apologized, saying he didn't realize she was underage.