Freedom

Beneath the digital production and R2D2 vocals, Akon is secretly an old-fashioned romantic, and his third album is his most heart-on-sleeve. There's a song about high rolling ("I'm So Paid," featuring Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy) and a skeezy ode to PDA, "We Don't Care." But most of Freedom is pure melodrama about love and love lost, delivered in a hooting style over synth-swamped beats that are closer to early Peter Gabriel than to 2008 hip-hop. Some songs tend to drag on too long, with Akon crooning his chorus catchphrases — "I was wrong for falling in love," "I just want to keep you longer" — dozens (hundreds?) of times. He's pop's new King of Pain.