Senegalese-born Akon's take on R&B is a unique one: whereas most male R&B singers prefer to cultivate a suave loverman persona, Akon favours the macho aggression more prevalent in hip-hop. His voice is wonderful, an instrument of silky versatility; it's arresting to hear tales of strippers, jail and drug dealing, interspersed with the occasional bout of chest-beating angst, sung in such a seductive style. The mostly self-produced Konvicted is a far more confident album than Akon's 2004 debut Trouble: the influence of R Kelly is audible, most tellingly on lavish, sweeping balladry such as The Rain and Never Took the Time, on which Akon's emotions reach a pitch of near-hysteria. Elsewhere, bluegrass guitar hooks are seamlessly integrated into steely, polished production worthy of 50 Cent. Gangsta Bop is both ridiculously catchy and thrillingly sparse. This will undoubtedly be the soundtrack to countless bus journeys in the coming months, played through tinny mobile phone speakers by kids skiving school - and there's not much higher recommendation than that.
Alex Macpherson is a freelance journalist who writes for The Guardian, New Statesman, Metro, Fact and Attitude. He distracts himself by checking tennis results, attending street dance classes and trawling for new music in the name of research