Simply put, Grafh was on the verge of becoming one of New York's biggest rap stars à la 50 Cent in the early 2000s. His electrifying mixtapes and guest verses grabbed the attention of rappers from all coasts, enabling him to cut tracks with Jay-Z, Scarface, and E-40. Unfortunately, label shakeups and general inertia, all-too-common recurrences in the record industry, left the aspiring MC's projects on the back burner. Grafh was known for his unbridled personality and graphic wordplay, which prompted some to call him the black Eminem, but those qualities are reflections of his past. Growing up in Jamaica, Queens, Grafh, aka Philip Bernard, witnessed the gunning down of two important figures in his life: a mentor and father figure who taught him his street smarts and his estranged father who returned into his life in his mid-teens. He still managed to make it to college but quit after three years, partly due to financial reasons but mainly to concentrate all his energy into a music career. In competition to attain a record deal with artists from G-Unit, Dipset, and many other N.Y. camps, he found a home at Epic Records. Between 2003 and 2004, he rhymed on the remixes for Top Ten hit singles by Ginuwine and Beyoncé. However, due to the restructuring of Epic's parent label, Sony, in 2004, Grafh had to take his recorded material elsewhere. Co-CEO of Roc-a-Fella Records Damon Dash reached out to the Queens rapper and his Blackhand Entertainment label for a lucrative distribution deal. The following year, the split of Roc-a-Fella Records yet again added more obstacles in the way of releasing his first solo album as he moved over to the Damon Dash Music Group. ~ Cyril Cordor
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