Following similarly themed releases from Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, Tuppy Entertainment opportunistically raids the back catalog of yet another global urban star, Akon, on Living the Life, a hodge-podge of material billed as a collection of "great underground hits and rare tracks." Unfortunately, any hardcore fans hoping for some newly discovered treasures will be very disappointed indeed, as there's very good reason why most of its ten inclusions have been previously unavailable. Three of the tracks aren't even music, with the opening "Intro" an eight-minute interview with BBC 1Xtra DJ Trevor Nelson, which may be utterly banal but sounds like Frost vs. Nixon compared to the low-quality, meandering, and completely pointless "Putting People On" and "Stunt Double," which are both randomly interspersed with crowd noises and background audio of his biggest hits. If this was billed as a spoken word disc, there wouldn't be as much cause for complaint, but by giving these pieces names which sound like song titles, it's hard to shake the feeling that you've been slightly conned. Equally sneaky are the misleadingly titled "Live," "Live, Pt.2," and "Sexy," which are live performances of hit singles "Right Now (Na Na Na)," "Belly Dancer," and the David Guetta production, "Sexy Chick," all of which sound like they've been recorded at a drunken frat party. The compilers seem to have gotten carried away, as they even change the names of tracks which don't need to be altered. "Nothing" is the duet with French Montana, an early signing to his Konvict Musik label, previously only available on a Cocaine Cowboys mixtape under the name of "We've Got Nothing to Prove." "Head Is Strong" is his utterly woeful cover version of James Morrison's "You Make It Real for Me," which he recorded for BBC's Radio 1 Live Lounge strand, while "Living" fuses both the original version of 2004 single "Ghetto" with the samples of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Trouble" and Tupac's "Ghetto Gospel" that were featured on two of its separate remixes. Only the recent posthumous collaboration with Michael Jackson, "Hold My Hand," does what it says on the cover. There are a couple of additions here that may be useful for the Akon obsessive, but overall, it's a rather dubious affair which seems designed to trick fans rather than offer anything of value.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien