By Michael Endelman
Updated November 10, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

With his sensitive-guy croon and ex-con vocabulary, Senegal-raised singer Akon is the R&B thug of the moment. Konvicted, the follow-up to his multiplatinum 2004 debut, continues to flaunt his real-life rap sheet with swaggering gangsta soul, though he alternates the grit with syrupy laments like ”The Rain” and ”Never Took the Time.” The wicked stuff is a lot more compelling. Hit single ”Smack That” features the liveliest Eminem cameo in ages, and ”Shake Down” is a drug dealer’s anthem fit for an episode of The Wire.