Akhenaton (real name Philippe Fragione, born 17 September 1968 in Marseille) is a French rapper and producer of French hip hop. He has also worked under the aliases Chill, AKH, Sentenza, and Spectre. He became famous as a member of the group IAM, and has since made a number of records, both with IAM and as a solo artist.
Akhenaton has also worked as a producer, producing songs for several French rappers and groups such as Passi, Stomy Bugsy, Chiens de Paille, Fonky Family, Freeman (a fellow member of IAM who has since made his break as a solo artist), La Brigade, Le 3ème Œil, etc. He is the creator of the record label Côté Obscur, the publishing house La Cosca, and the vinyl record label 361.
Akhenaton was born Philippe Fragione in Marseille on 17 September 1968, and spent his youth in Plan-de-Cuques, a small village on the outskirts of the city. In 1981, he discovered hip hop music and started traveling frequently to New York City where he received the nickname "Chill Phil". At about the same time, back in Marseille, he met Éric Mazel, a DJ who would later be known as Khéops. Mazel and Fragione started working together to advance the cause of French hip hop.
In 1988, Fragione debuted as a hip hop theorist, publishing the essay La deuxième génération du hip-hop (The second generation of hip-hop) in the fanzine Vé. The same year, he appeared on the B-side of the US rapper MC Choice's single "Let's Make Some Noise". Having returned to Marseille, he met Geoffroy Mussard (Shurik'n) and Malek Brahimi (Freeman). Fragione became known as Akhenaton, and together with Khéops and Shurik'n formed the group B.Boys Stance, renamed IAM in 1989. The group was later joined by Freeman, Imhotep and Kephren.
Four of the six members of IAM chose ancient Egyptian names as stage names. It should be noted that that Akhenaton also converted to Islam from Catholicism.. Musicologists argue that Akhenaton and the other members of IAM index the modern Arab world through the use of their names. Instead of overtly pointing out North African countries and the turmoil that has surrounded the contemporary Arab community, the Egyptian names allow the audience to covertly draw parallels between IAM and North Africa.
Instead of focusing on violence and rebellion like many other French rappers, Akhenaton and IAM remain true to their hometown, Marseille. Violent protests, arson and looting have been prominent among French youth, but in Marseille rap has remained fairly innocuous. Akhenaton explains that rappers in Marseille are more socially conscious than most hip hop artists because they feel a strong sense of community.
After IAM's first three albums' success, Akhenaton released his first solo album, Métèque et mat, in 1995. The album sold 300,000 copies, and it was followed by Sol Invictus in 2001. He began to delve into his other projects, such as producing Passi's album Les tentations (1997) and the 2001 film Comme un aimant. He continued working with IAM, releasing the album Revoir un printemps in 2003 and Saison 5 in 2007.