Akon is "seriously" considering running for president in 2020 to challenge President Donald Trump. The St. Louis-born rapper is hoping to turn his experience as an international advocate to bring electricity to African countries into a successful political career at home.
"I've been thinking about running for 2020 very seriously," the "Locked Up" rapper told Newsweek on Oct. 26. "But I didn't want to just do it because I feel like I want to continue doing what I'm doing and hope that builds me enough momentum [for people] to say, 'You know what, if you run we'll support you.'"
The 45-year-old told the magazine he now feels "a lot more unsafe" and "unempowered" in Trump's America, especially after his experience living abroad.
"Honestly, I feel it's gonna be a fight. I feel like I should be always prepared for the unexpected," he explained. "I feel very uncomfortable. And I feel a lot of Americans do; even some white Americans feel that way because they're watching backlash of his decisions. It's not what's happening now, because it's clear it's creating a whole bunch of divide today. But I think tomorrow that impact is going to be so much more devastating."
Akon believes Trump's rhetoric has set the country's integration back, pointing to President Barack Obama's election as evidence that the country was coming together before Trump was elected.
"After Obama you had blacks, whites, Hispanics, everybody working together," Akon told Newsweek. "We really came a long way to get people to come together, and look at each other as humans, and work towards a common cause. And now it seems like everything that was done is being undone, with gangs and race groups re-emerging. It's just horrible."
Although Akon has no experience as a politician, he has been on the international stage for several years as a philanthropist and the founder of the Akoin cryptocurrency. In 2014, he established Akon Lighting Africa, an organization helping residents of 15 African countries get access to electricity. He also told Newsweek that the Senegal government granted his organization a 2,000-acre plot to build Akoin Crypto City, which he hopes could be as the Dubai of Africa.
Akon also told TMZ in February he offered to help restore power to Puerto Rico residents after Hurricane Maria hit, but the government rejected him. He told Newsweek he would still offer the government help again.
"We could have gone in literally the day after the storm and started working, but it's just a matter of them allowing us to be able to share in those contracts," he told the magazine. "They look at it more like money, while we're looking at it like basic common courtesy. Just give people what they need."
Akon was born in St. Louis, but spent part of his childhood in Senegal before his family moved to New Jersey. He previously told Variety he was a Hillary Clinton supporter and was "personally disappointed" by how Trump's presidency has turned out.
Photo credit: Paul Morigi/WireImage/Getty Images