Fabricating a gangsta/street image can be a tricky thing: to successfully overcome a relatively ordinary upbringing, you need to fabricate details, but not over-do it -- something Ice Cube understood and Vanilla Ice didn't. Akon forgot this rule, or at least pushed it out of his brain to make room for vocoder instructions. His faux-criminal backstory has some major tells:
--He claimed to be the leader of an auto theft ring/chop shop. That's... kind of credible. But specializing in Porsches, Lamborghinis and Mercedes-Benzes? Really? Is there that huge a market for stolen exotic auto parts? The most successful chop shops specialize in Toyotas and Hondas and other makes that have millions of models on the streets, not some supercar with a six-figure price tag.
--On top of this, said chop shop allegedly catered not only to a criminal element, but to "celebrities." So apparently if Jay Leno's Gallardo threw a rod, Akon was his man.
--Akon's arrest came not from some tactical screwup or any sort of police work, but due to ungrateful underlings who ratted on him because they felt they weren't getting paid enough. This is the sort of thing you find in David Simon's wastebasket.
--Three years for leading a notorious auto theft ring? Three?
--Apparently, despite the fact that he weighed only 150 pounds, Akon eventually developed the ability to beat up any fellow prisoner who challenged him: "I knew where to hit you to knock you out, so I didn't fear you," he's claimed. So he's Maindrian Pace, Avon Barksdale and a skinnier version of Ving Rhames in Undisputed.
As it turns out, Akon did serve three years for a felony -- but the felony was gun possession, and the three years were probation. And his "auto theft ring" was a single stolen BMW for which he was never officially convicted.
Since this information inevitably would have come out, why take the risk? The discrepancy between the number of murders in "N.Y. State of Mind," "9mm Goes Bang," and "Peel Their Caps Back" and the number of people actually killed by Nas, KRS-One, and Ice-T is a pretty huge gulf (by which I mean the latter number is zero), but they didn't feel compelled to claim all their lyrics came from personal experiences. If Akon had just said "yeah I've been arrested a couple times, and I know people who've done time," and still recorded the same songs with the same "man, prison is hard" themes, would his career be any less healthy?
As it is, I'm already wondering if the dude he chucked off the stage last year was a trained professional wrestler.