Nick Cannon: Wild'n Out!
I overheard you saying you admire Sammy Davis, Jr. Do you see yourself as an all-around entertainer?
To me people like Sammy Davis Jr. , people who were so extremely talented were my inspiration. I wanted to always just do it all. I used to want to tap. Thats true talent. Harry Belafonte, I had a chance to sit with him recently. People who paved the way doing everything, movies, putting on phenomenal shows at the Copacabana. You had to be able to entertain. Thats what I think the game has lost because its become so commercialized. Its all about making money more than being an entertainer and putting on a good show. Im just trying to bring it back. And I think its a few other people that are doing it well, like Jamie Foxx, Will Smith and Queen Latifah. Those people are entertaining and broadening their horizons. So many people want to box you in or pigeonhole you, but thats not where I want to go.
Do you like recording an album better than being on TV, or vice versa?
I like it all the same. They say its like choosing between your kids. You love them all the same. And even if you do love one better, you dont tell them. Its equal to me.
How did you get your start in show business?
I had my first demo tape when I was 8, rapping. That was the first thing I did. I was always that class clown, that silly kid. Stand up is what worked for me. We were shopping my demo at 8. But being in San Diego, we didnt know who to give it to. Once I started doing stand up thats when people started taking notice.
Your new album is called Stages. Why?
Stages its like, if you have any question about me, you can find the answer on Stages. You really get to know me off of this record. I know that sounds real clich, but thats the reason I named it stages- every stage of my life, every stage of my career, every stage that Ive ever experienced in a relationship. Then its an analogy for all the stages that I perform on, from a comedy stage to a film stage to television stage to a music stage. Im always on stages.
Who is on the album?
The only other producer besides myself is Kanye West. Other than that I produced the entire album. I had a chance to work with people I was fans of: Anthony Hamilton, who was on the Can I Live record that I produced; E-40, who is one of my favorite rappers; Talib Kweli, who is another one of my favorite rappers.
Talk about your record label, Can I Ball Records.
I got a distribution deal though Motown/Universal distribution. They are a great support system. And to be a part of the Motown family is amazing. And to be able to be a part of the Motown family and do my own thing and bring people in is just phenomenal. Its a great legacy. And Im trying to keep it going. I believe I have a lot of bring to the table.
People love to talk about you. How do you feel about gossip and rumors?
I like it. Its entertainment. I dont take none of this stuff serious. This is my occupation. This is my career. Its not me. Im Nick Cannon but Im not who the public thinks Nick Cannon is. Thats who I am for my occupation. So when I go home and lay in my grandmothers extra room and take out the trash, thats me. Thats the dude I am. Everything that goes on outside of that is funny to me. I understand what it is. Its entertainment. My life doesnt stop once the people leave the movie or once they turn the radio off. They want to always be involved. So when I go out, or whoever Im dating, thats entertainment. It is what it is. I dont take it too serious.
Before you were famous, what kept you going?
I still feel like Im not famous. It seems like it gradually happened. It wasnt an overnight thing for me. All of a sudden, people knew who I was. It wasnt a big culture shock. I was always that kid that thought he was famous. When I was the new kid at school or when I walked into the mall, I thought everyone should already know who I was. Because, for some reason, I always had a sense that everyone was supposed to know me already.
Talk about your inspirations. First, in acting
I look to cats like Tom Hanks. Cats who can do it all. Tom Hanks could get an Oscar for dramatic and comedic roles. Thats a dream come true. You can rip a movie like Forrest Gump and then rip a movie like Philadelphia. Thats somebody who can go all out. I love people who can be versatile and do that type of stuff. The same thing with Sean Penn or Don Cheadle. Im a fan of those cats.
I look up to cats like Slick Rick and LL. People who did it differently. Somebody, instead of talking about killing and shooting, people who are in their own lane. Thats whats interesting about hip hop music to me.
Eddie Murphy is that dude when it comes to comedians. I love everything hes done.
Do you like being an executive?
Absolutely. Thats my favorite part, being a businessman and making decisions and controlling situations. Thats one thing I love about having my own label and signing artists, operating the business. I dont sleep. Thats what drives me. I have an ultimate goal and I have to be successful.
Can you think of a life-altering moment you can share?
When I was about 16, I got caught up in gang violence. People I knew started getting killed. The last straw for me was one day I was walking down the street and these guys jumped out of the car and started fighting and one broke my nose. And I remember from that point on, I thought this is my life. If my life ends, its over. So I got to go out there and make a difference in my own life. I got to take my life into my on hands. I got to figure out what Im going to do. Thats when I said Im going to take this entertainment thing really serious. Im going to finish school. I graduated school that year, moved to L.A. on my own. Im not going to let this nonsense take my life away. I started taking everything as serious as I could cause life is so short and theres so much you can get out of it.
What are your future plans?
Of course, season three of Wildn Out. I got a show, Nick Star Camp that Im producing with Quincy Jones. Its like Making The Band meets Mickey Mouse Club. We found some of the most talented kids ever and theyre the future. Its me putting them through the training and building an album. Movies I got an animated film called Monster House with Kevin James. Another independent movie called Weapons by the same people that produced Collateral. Bobby, an epic about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy starring Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne. The cast is phenomenal. To be in that was a highlight of my career. Also, PNB Nation, a clothing line I bought and am trying to take it to the next level.
What will it take to bring West Coast hip hop back?
A movement: Hyphy. People are paying attention to that. You know what will make a huge impact from the West? The Latino community. Theres a music scene thats strong and they support each other. Reggaeton is huge now. Thats a more East Coast feel. Youre going to get the West Coast feel of that in a minute.