This article originally appeared on VICE Sweden
Dennis Graham is Drake's dad. He's been hanging around in Stockholm, Sweden (where I'm from) over the past two to three years. He's also pretty popular on Instagram. I first heard about Graham in February 2015 when he hung out at the Swedish music awards, the 'Grammis'. People turned to Twitter and wondered what the hell Drake's dad was doing in Sweden. Turns out Graham is friends with Swedish director Nikeisha Andersson and she directed the music video for "Kinda Crazy", Graham's single released last year.
The "Kinda Crazy" video was actually shot two years ago in Stockholm, though it only came out last week. I was there at the time to interview Graham, or, that was the idea. But since I get a little starstruck thinking about Graham's son, Drake, I wanted someone who doesn't know who Drake is to interview Drake's dad. So I asked my dad, Magnus.
"Dad, can you interview a guy your age who's just started his solo career?" I asked. "He used to play drums with Jerry Lee Lewis! The rest is up to you to find out." Since my dad is a pretty big fan of rock 'n' roll he accepted, slightly confused.
Markus' Dad: Hi Dennis. So, are you famous because you used to play drums with Jerry Lee Lewis?
Dennis Graham: Well, it's kind of a strange story, the way I met Jerry Lee. In Memphis, there's a place called Hot Air Balloon. Jerry had a drummer named Robert Tarp Tarrant who robbed a 7/11 when they were playing there. And there I was and Jerry Lee asked me to come and sit down and play because Tarp had been taken away… I was 18 years old. But now I'm famous because of Drake.
But I played with all kinds of people; I played with Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Willie Nelson and Mickey Gilley. I mean on short-term basis. I played with so many people I can't remember now. But I didn't play with them long enough to consider myself to be famous. The reason I'm getting so much attention right now is strictly due to my son.
To your son? Drake? I don't know him. Maybe I should know him. Can you tell me about Drake?
Drake was born in Toronto, Ontario. I'm originally from Memphis, Tennessee. I left when I was very young. I moved to Vegas, Houston, Texas and LA, then to Toronto.
I met Drake's mother at a hotel in Toronto. I was at the bar looking for a cigarette and I waved for the bartender to come get me cigarettes, and Drake's mother was there for a show we did. She said, "Here – have one of mine!" So we started talking and I came back to Toronto again, and finally we fell in love after, you know, a while and I ended up moving there.
In what way does your son make you famous now?
Due to social media. I post a lot of things about him and people Google me and they find out what I've done so I have more than 200,000 followers on Instagram right now. I mean, it happens pretty fast.
But who is Drake?
Drake is a rapper. He's the number one rapper in the world right now.
Maybe I've heard his songs. Maybe I've even danced to them, I don't know.
Here, I'll show you a picture!
You're wearing that same nice suit in that photo as you're wearing today. How come you dress like that?
Oh, it's just for the video! Usually, I'm very casual. This was only for today. I also wore it when we did a photoshoot on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. Because so many people on social media recognise me in that suit, I wanted to wear it again to be in the video. I had on a white suit when I came over here for the Swedish Grammis.
So tell me about your song!
That's my song. I wanted to make some ol' R&B. The young lady who did the track for me lives in Memphis, too, and she makes tracks. And I heard this specific track, "Kinda Crazy" – I named it "Kinda Crazy" – I heard the music and I loved it so much! I had a young man who co-wrote it with me. We sat down one night drinking and started writing words to it and I came up with what we have now. Dustin Que produced it. So it's fantastic! How's your relationship with your son now? Do you always consider yourself to be 'the dad'?
Oh, he's the love of my life! I go on tour with him. I mean we have our differences sometimes… You know, we made a bet when he was about nine years old. He auditioned for a show, a TV show in Toronto, and we made a bet for five dollars. He said, "dad, I bet you five dollars I'm gonna do more movies than you ever did, I'm gonna do more commercials than you ever did, and I'm gonna do more music than you ever did." And I said okay. I mean, that excited me. So I said, "Okay, I'll bet you. Let's bet! Let's shake on it." And in 2009, I had to pay him his five dollars. He surpassed me [laughs] in the worst way, or in the best way!
For an outsider, like me, I find it fascinating that you guys in the music industry tend to party a lot. Is that true?
I go out to the hip-hop clubs at least three nights a week!
Jeez. It seems like you've always played in bands. How come you decided to go solo now?
Me sitting down and writing to that track that this young lady gave me. I'm not looking to go on tour anymore. I'm not looking to become famous because of this. This is one song. And this one single is all I'm doing. I'll say that now but…
This is all about that bet, right? You need your five dollars back.
Haha no, he won the bet! We're done with that. But at first he seemed a little jealous because he said, "dad, this is my time now!" You know and "Drake, this is one song I'm releasing. You're a multi-millionaire, how in the world could I compete with you? Come on!"
You can follow Markus on Twitter. We don't know if his dad's online too, though.