Akon felt under pressure to 'distance himself from his African background'

Akon feels proud of the success of Afrobeats credit:Bang Showbiz
Akon feels proud of the success of Afrobeats credit:Bang Showbiz

Akon felt pressure to "distance" himself from his African background at the start of his career.

The 50-year-old singer was born in the US but spent some of his childhood in the west African country of Senegal, and Akon has now claimed that producers were only interested in one side of his heritage in the early 2000s.

He told 'BBC Newsbeat': "One of the biggest things that I had to actually distance myself from at the time when I did come out, was the fact that I was African.

"That wasn't really something that they could market or promote in that kind of arena that I was actually playing in."

However, the landscape has been transformed by the likes of Davido, Wizkid and Burna Boy in recent years, all of whom have helped to make Afrobeats a global phenomenon.

Akon is now convinced that the genre has a very bright future in Europe and in the US.

The singer - who has previously worked with the likes of Eminem and Snoop Dogg - said: "Afrobeats is going to be around a long time, because it's been around a long time [already].

"The role that I really played was just kind of helping to expose it, putting it out there, and using every opportunity that I had, and every relationship that I had, every resource that I had, to introduced it and hope that people will gravitate."

Akon enjoyed huge success during the early years of his career with singles such as 'Lonely' and 'Locked Up'.

But the financial pressures of the industry caused him to lose some enthusiasm.

He shared: "Everything had to be so calculated. It becomes stressful and starts to feel like work."