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After being apprised of the nature of TSG's story, Smalls said she would seek replies to our questions, but had not called back at press time.

Darrick "Devyne" Stephens, Akon's longtime collaborator and business partner, did not return several messages left at his Atlanta office.

With the single exception of a Washington Post reporter who wrote last March that some of the "bullet points in Akon's biography" sounded "like the stuff of creation myth," entertainment journalists have played right into the manipulation.

In a February 2007 story in Creative Loafing, Atlanta's weekly newspaper, readers were assured that "Akon doesn't need to embellish, since he's already lived an unusual and turbulent life." And an August 2007 Interview magazine story was headlined, "Akon: In a hip-hop world where everyone's always straining for street cred, here's one guy who has it." For his part, the performer appears so confident that nobody will challenge his fables that he has recently embellished them even further.

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APRIL 16--In the hip-hop world, a performer's street cred can often be gauged by the number of entries on their rap sheet, the time they have spent behind bars, or the gritty details of their illicit escapades.

The New York Times has referred to him as the "prison-obsessed R&B singer" who "wants it known that crooners can evoke prison life just as effectively as rappers." In fact, the singer not only named his company Konvict Music, but he settled on "Konvicted" for the title of his second album, which sold nearly three million copies last year.

As it turns out, however, "Kontrived" might have been a more accurate choice.

He obliges with canned and well-rehearsed claims, false as they may be, and compares his supposed nationwide operation to those depicted in the movies "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "New Jersey Drive." And in interview after interview over the years, he always makes sure to point out the "notorious" nature of his theft ring (as if the adjective's inclusion makes him sound even more felonious).

Akon repeats the phrase "notorious car theft operation" so frequently it seems like he is reading it from a sheet of talking points.

Akon's ad nauseum claims about his criminal career and resulting prison time have been, to an overwhelming extent, exaggerated, embellished, or wholly fabricated, an investigation by The Smoking Gun has revealed.

Police, court, and corrections records reveal that the entertainer has created a fictionalized backstory that serves as the narrative anchor for his recorded tales of isolation, violence, woe, and regret.

That 1998 New Jersey case ended with a guilty plea, for which the singer was sentenced to three years probation.

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