Nick Cannon has literally grown up in front of our eyes. From his Nickelodeon days to having jokes on “Wild 'N Out” to marriage and fatherhood, he feels like someone you already know. His smile is electric, and when you think of all he has accomplished, both personally and professionally, Nick has a lot to be thrilled about.
Over the past few years, Nick has evolved into a Renaissance man of sorts, juggling TV show hosting jobs and movie roles, all while still finding time to hit the studio and spit a few rap verses from time to time. So, what’s this multi-talent’s main priority these days, though? Being husband to one of the top selling and respected singers of our time (Mariah Carey!), and now, a super-proud dad to fraternal twin babies (Moroccan and Monroe!).
AllHipHop.com cozied in with Nick to learn more about this new phase of his life, and why he’s never, ever backing down from a certain gigantic, 8 Mile Detroit rapper:
AllHipHop.com: Hi, Nick! I know you're a busy man, so I'm going to jump right into my questions if that's okay.
Nick: Alright. My pleasure.
AllHipHop.com: The first thing I want to say is, you know, we all know you as this triple threat, maybe even a quadruple threat in the industry. But I'm sure your biggest role to date has to be being a daddy to those beautiful twins we saw the other day! So how's fatherhood going for you?
Nick: Fatherhood is amazing. I'm having a wonderful time. Actually headed home right now to change some diapers.
AllHipHop.com: [laughter] Okay, well, we saw “Dem Babies” on Barbara Walters recently, and they are really cute, first of all.
Nick: Thank you!
AllHipHop.com: Why do you think the reveal of your babies was so epic? You know there are a lot of celebrity babies, but it was like, oh my God, this was Barbara Walters worthy. So what's so special about them I think?
Nick: One, I think, because of the fact that we did wait so long. That was partly because of my hesitance to actually even have them out there. I was trying to hold onto the privacy as long as possible. At the end of the day, my wife is an icon, and she does things in an iconic way. You couldn't expect anything less.
AllHipHop.com: So now having revealed them to everybody, are you having any regrets? Do you think it was a good thing to share what they look like and a little of their personalities?
Nick: Yeah, I think it was the best way to do it. We didn't sell any pictures to tabloids. A lot of money was offered from several different places. I think this was the best way to do it. It was personal, but at the same time it was classy. Even what we did, putting up our family blog, www.dembabies.com – that kind of gave a different outlook and showed the normalcy that our family operates under. So that's all we really wanted to do.
AllHipHop.com: Alright. I know you always seem to have a lot going on. You're like balancing TV stuff and hosting and a lot of other projects, and now you've got a growing family. So when I think about our audience, it's kind of young urban men. What do you have to give up, seriously, to step into this grown-*ss man phase of your life?
Nick: Honestly, I haven't given up anything. If anything, I've just broadened my horizons. I still love everything that I loved before, but now family is my main focus. It's zoning in more than anything. More than giving up, it's understanding what your priorities are.
AllHipHop.com: So, in other words, having a family can be cool.
Nick: Yeah, there ain't nothing wrong with that. It's just time management and understanding who comes first. But I think if anything, having a family is the coolest thing. That's the ultimate success. I've had probably everything else that life has to offer, and nothing's been more beautiful than my family.
AllHipHop.com: That's nice to hear. So, I want to ask you about Mariah real quick. We've sort of seen her evolve majorly. She came out as this girl running in the flowerbeds, then she did a lot of songs with rappers. She was out of the spotlight for a while, then she sort of rose back like a phoenix after a while, bigger and better than ever. What one word would you use to describe your wife in this evolution?
Nick: Resilient, remarkable, phenomenal. You could use any of those three.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, and why would you say that?
Nick: One, because she is truly an artist of our time – there will only be one Mariah. What she's done on the charts, what she's done as an artist, how she's changed peoples' lives, and how she's lived her life in the public and kind of always given herself to her fans from day one. She's remarkable and phenomenal in a sense. Just what she's done in her career, no one else has ever done. Jay says men lie, women lie, numbers don't. Nobody will ever be able to reach the heights that she's reached.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, I definitely would say that she cornered the comeback. Nobody came back quite as hard as her ever. I think she came back maybe even bigger than before.
Nick: Yeah, and she ain't finished. She's about to come hit them over the head again.
AllHipHop.com: Wow, okay. We're looking forward to seeing that. I want to jump back to you, because we're AllHipHop.com so I've got to ask about rap and rap beefs and stuff like that! [laughter] People know you as this happy-go-lucky guy, but when I think about you, I know you never have seemed to back down from anything that's been thrown at you. There's this long, ongoing thing with Eminem. So, hmmm, there seems to be this scrappy side to Nick Cannon. Is that fair? What's that side like that'll go ahead and jump in the ring with giants?
Nick: That's my Incredible Hulk side! [laughter] I actually grew up as one of those kids, I was the smallest kid at the school. People would always try to bully me, but I was never one to back down from a fight. And that's kind of what I am now. I don't like to start stuff, but I love to finish it. And that's always been my mentality, and I think that kind of goes into my work effort as well. I just like to work hard, and I'm never going to be bullied, I'm never going to let somebody bully me.
Even my comeback or my strategy on retaliation gets me in trouble. I've never been one to just keep my mouth shut. Many people say, ‘you're bigger than that, don't pay it any attention.’ That's just not me. When you think about it at the end of the day, I came up in Hip-Hop, I am a comic, and with those two things, you've got to speak your mind and never be scared to say whatever you've got to say. If I'm feeling something, I'm going to say it. It might not be the right thing to say, but I'm going to say how I'm feeling.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, that does make you a true rapper! So to ask about your rap career though, a lot of the spotlight has been on the beef tracks and that sort of thing, but has rap been something that you really have taken seriously over the course of your years in the industry?
Nick: Yeah, I mean I'm not done. I'm actually dropping my mixtape in a couple weeks. And there's going to be some more controversial stuff and everything. I think when I look at the game today, it's not even about lyricism like it used to be. I feel like it might be making a comeback. There's a lot of people actually doing some interesting things that I'm appreciating.
But right now, it's just like everybody's so stuck on this, ‘I sold drugs, and now I'm a rapper,’ and how much weight they push. That's not entertaining to me anymore, and if you think about it, I'm a child of Hip-Hop. I'm an ‘80s baby. I remember when there was times for ever NWA, for every Ice T, you always had a Kwame, A Tribe Called Quest, a Fresh Prince, or a Slick Rick. There was variety in Hip-Hop.
Everybody's out here pushing weight right now. If you were pushing weight that hard, there's no need for you to be rapping. You should be off on an island somewhere counting your millions! I'm coming in. I always had an issue with everybody saying, ‘Nick Cannon, he ain't real.’ If anything, I'm probably one of the realest dudes out here, because I'm not afraid to be myself. I'm not trying to hide behind some gangster persona, some fake persona. No, I'm me. I'm going to say some stuff. I'm going to tell you how I grew up. Yeah, I grew up in the ‘hood, but I don't glorify that like I'm some gangster dude. I'm one of those cats that was happy to get out of my circumstances. And whether it was Nickelodeon or whatever that got me out, or comedy, that was my saving grace, so I'm not afraid to embrace it.
AllHipHop.com: Right. Smart words, I love that. Get out of that ‘hood mindset, people! Okay, well I think I mentioned you're a triple quadruple threat. Out of the different kinds of things that you do, what makes you the happiest and most fulfilled?
Nick: I think honestly I'd have to say my standup. Like Hip-Hop, it gives me a freedom to say whatever I want to say. It's that thing where it's what I started doing, it's what got me the furthest, and there's not a night of the week where I can't just hop on the stage and kind of create something out of nothing, and kind of watch people embrace it.
When you do standup, you're your own writer, you're your own director, you're your own performer, you're your own producer, promoter. You have to be able to do all of that. It's something that I've been doing all my life. I was kind of hesitant to even get out there and do a special and stuff. It was kind of just something I was doing that was therapeutic. Then one of my close friends, Kevin Hart, was like, ‘If you don't go out there and show people how good you are, they may not never know.’ So I took his advice and put out "Mr. Showbiz."
AllHipHop.com: Right, okay. I know a lot of people have loved you for “Wild 'N Out,” which was super popular, and that really shows that you have that natural comedic timing, whatever you call it…
Nick: Yeah, improv and cracking, going in on people! [laughter] That's definitely a skill.
AllHipHop.com: For sure, for sure. Okay, besides a lot of changing diapers like you said, and bottles and everything, what's coming next for you? I know you were doing “Up All Night” on NBC, so what's up with that?
Nick: Lorne Michaels called me and asked me if I could be a part of that. He's like the godfather of comedy, so anytime he calls, I say yeah, absolutely, I'll do it. It's one of those things I enjoyed doing. I think it's a wonderful show. If my time and schedule continues to permit, I'll definitely continue to be part of it. That's my thing, I get kind of stretched in so many different directions that it's things I do want to be a part of. The schedule kind of dictates what I can or can't do, but I definitely love “Up All Night” and want to continue to do more work on that show.
I've got a movie I'm getting ready to direct at the top of the year. Obviously, the standup stuff is still going strong, the music, and I'm running the network over here at Team Nick and the radio show. So it's a lot of stuff I'm just trying to juggle. But we continue to take the game by storm!
AllHipHop.com: Cool. Tell me the name of the mixtape again, and how people can find out about or listen to that when it comes out?
Nick:Child of the Corn. It'll be on my website first, www.nickcannon.com, but this is really embracing all that stuff everybody's always saying. I said I accept it. You can call me corny, I'm going to be General Cornball Wallace, I'll be the biggest cornball of all. I'm representing all the kids that have been talked about and pushed around forever. I'll be the advocate for that, because I've lived it all my life, and I've overcome it and kind of learned to embrace it. There's nothing that has hindered me from achieving this success, and there's nothing that I've wanted that I haven't received regardless of what negativity is perpetuated.
AllHipHop.com: Right. Well, you know they say “good guys finish last,” but I think you finish somewhere near the top myself.
Nick: Well, thank you, I appreciate that.
AllHipHop.com: Best of luck with “Dem Babies” and your beautiful wife and everything. We’re grateful for a few moments to catch up with a busy man like you, Nick.
Nick: Likewise. This was really good. Thank you for your time. Take it easy!
Keep up with Nick Cannon and all of his industry hustles at www.nickcannon.com.