Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Verizon dumps Akon

The war to clean up hip-hop has begun.

Verizon dropped its sponsorship of Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape tour because of opening act Akon. (The tour comes to Charlotte on Saturday.)

In a performance last month in Trinidad, Akon simulated sex while dancing with a 14-year-old girl during a performance. When video footage of the performance got back to Verizon, the top dogs pulled their money from Stefani’s tour, which wasn’t related to Akon’s Trinidad performance.
They’ve also pulled Akon’s ringtones and music from stores and handsets.

Talk about a wake-up call.
Verizon is doing what consumers won’t do: holding artists accountable for their product.

In my That’s Wassup! column about Don Imus and previous columns and blogs about hip-hop, I’ve written that consumers can dictate what artists create by choosing not to support rappers who sell sex and violence. Verizon’s decision shows that big companies might be the ones who dictate the future of hip-hop.

Akon is one of the hottest artists out there. Verizon pulling him is like the Lakers benching Kobe Bryant. The cell phone industry is a lucrative market for artists, and Verizon’s decision to pull Akon is going to reverberate through the industry.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press ran a story saying that Akon apologized and that he didn't know the girl was underage. Um, unless this child has been eating steroids instead of Wheaties it's hard to believe he couldn't tell a 14-year-old from an 18-year-old. If you watch the video on YouTube, you won't care if the girl is 14 or 18, the way he throws her around the floor and simulates sex could be a considered a sexual assualt for anyone.

What do you think? Did Verizon make the right decision by pulling sponsorship of the tour and refusing to sell Akon’s ringtones and music? Post your replies below.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that you blast Richard Gere, even going so far as to throw down the race gauntlet, yet you take a casual stance with Akon. In fact, you compare him to Kobe, who also has his own incident with assault, didn't he? Don't be subtle, call them out. But do it equally or it will appear that you have your own bias.

I like people who take a stand, even if it isn't popular. Just don't blast your credibility by taking contradictory stances. Akon's actions were far more aggressive than Gere's and you need to call him out for that. Unless you believe it is more tolerable when the attacker is of the same race as the victim; the thought makes me shudder.

Anonymous said...


I was very upset with you as describing Akon's assault on a 14-year-old girl on stage as "simulated sex." It wasn't sex. It was rape. He should be prosecuted for sexual assault. It was clear that the girl was not consenting. What he did he was violent and vile. He treated that girl like a sex doll, like meat for his amusement. He should serve time. He should serve time even if his "partner" was 35. The victim clearly was not into being dry humped by Akon on the stage.


Tonya Jameson said...

This comment was posted by an anonymous reader and edited to delete curse words:

this is the silliest s--- that has happened in a long while. while YOU may feel that Akon's actions on stage were disturbing or what have you, you must realize tht their's is a totally different culture than our especially when it comes to dancing. It is funny to me that no one is taking the time to comment on the other pictures that have been published inwhich she was straddling him and grinding her litle heart away. She was not dressed or handling herself in a manner that a 14 should and to top it off she was in an adult venue.....don't blame Akon...blame the owners of the venue for allowing her to enter....blame he parents of the girl for not know where their 14 year old, hot in the a--, tattooed up and belly button pierced daughter was at that time of night and blame the girl for putting herself in that position.

Anonymous said...

WOW, Tonya honey. Seems that you could have made a stronger statement than you did about this. Waz up wit tat?

Tonya Jameson said...

Hey, hey!
Calm all of that down. When I initially posted the Akon blog, I hadn't seen the video. By the time I updated it with his comments it was later in the evening and too late to write extensively about it. So, give me a minute to know out some other assignments and I'll post a That's Wassup! column about Akon this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD, Akon did not know the girl was 14, like that would have made a difference. I guess it would have been OK to assult Tonya on stage like that, since shes a little older than 14!

jett said...

I have followed this story since it broke. I saw all the pictures and video and read stories written in the trinidad papers. Some local women their often perform in what they call "wining competitions"... which are these very sexually explicit dances, usually with a male star, that takes place at clubs and concerts. This 14 year old was tattooed and had a belly button piercing and snuck into the club. I do believe she knew full well what she was getting herself into. HOWEVER, the manner in which Akon threw her around that floor humping her like some crazed dog was discusting, shameful and cannot be defended. I commend Verizon for taking a stand against this degradation of women and am disappointed that Gwen Stefani hasn't dismissed him from her tour. All women should be outraged by what Akon did. He objectified that girl and tossed her aside like a rag doll. Thanks Tonya, for posting this and your level-headed and even reporting.

Anonymous said...

How many people know the real words for "I wanna love you"? It's not what they play on the radio. I've heard the "I wanna f*&% you" version a few times on satellite radio.

Gimme a break. The guy's a porn star in musician's clothing. It's almost as bad as the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait till you see my d*^&"

Sex sells and the public's buying, stupidly.

Anonymous said...

good for Verizon.....should have happened sooner

Anonymous said...

To err is human. To ignore is Tanja J!

I like Akon's music, yes even the explicit stuff. However, I do NOT condone what he did to that little girl. Yes, her character is questionable, however let's keep in mind Akon is the adult not her! He should know and have done better.

I guess we can give thanks to R Kelly for "easing our consicious" on how we view underage sex/sexual activity as a cultural. WHAT A SHAME!

Rod said...

I applaud Verizon for taking a stand against such a demented form of "entertainment". That's a critically important step in cleaning up what's passing for entertainment these days. If I never buy Akon's work (and I never have, and never will), he won't notice. Same for you or any other individual. When Verizon pulls their sponsorship, however, he notices!!