Though his street cred may have been shot full of holes by the Smoking Gun, Akon seems to have survived unscathed, probably because nobody really wants you to keep it real when you're singing ultrashiny hooks like those found on "Beautiful," the third single from his new album, Freedom. "Beautiful" debuted on this week's Hot 100 at No. 19, and it's easy to see why — Akon's oddly compelling vocals ride atop a Jock Jams hook that's ripe for cross-merchandising. Cutting the pop sweetness a bit is an island-inflected guest verse from Canadian rapper Kardianal Offishall, but there's nothing he offers up that will keep this from being played wherever one finds speakers. We wouldn't be surprised if this gave Akon yet another No. 1.
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