After being ubiquitous in the early 2000s, Nick Cannon spent the past few years laying low. But don’t think the Wild’n Out star wasn’t making moves. He was busy manning up, wifing a pop legend (Mariah Carey), and managing one of the game’s most promising young rappers (Cory Gunz).
We got up with the star of next month’s Showtime comedy special, Mr. Showbizz, to discuss he and Gunz’s recently premiered MTV show, Son of a Gun, why he can’t give up rapping and what would happen if he and Eminem ever found themselves in the same room together.— Calvin Stovall
XXLMag.com: How did you hook up with Cory Gunz and eventually become his manager?
Nick Cannon: I asked around about who the next hot thing in hip-hop [was] and Cory’s name kept coming up. This was about a year-and-a-half, two years ago. And I knew Cory from obviously knowing his father from back in the day. So I reached out to him. I told him that I could take his career to the next level. Kinda laid out the game plan and he was with it. And from there, the story unraveled where you see [on the show]. It’s a father and son tale kind of told through a cutthroat industry. It’s kind of a coming-of-age tale at the same time. Cory got signed when [he] was a kid and had a lot of broken promises and stuff. So, a lot of interesting subtextual things unraveled once we started turning the cameras on.
XXL: Many in hip-hop question your credibility. Why are you the right person to manage an artist like Cory Gunz?
NC: I mean, the proof is really in just my work ethic at the end of the day. It’s not about who’s the right person or their street cred or all that. Actually, that stuff is a bunch of buffoonery to me at the end of the day. How tough somebody is in the public’s eyes doesn’t match up to what type of business man they are. If you look at the biggest, best managers in the business, it doesn’t really relate to how much street cred they have. So, when it comes to that type of stuff, I’m not really moved by that. And really even the business moves that we make, it’s not something that concerns me when it comes to how people feel about me. It’s not about me when it comes to Cory, it’s about putting together the best opportunities for him.
XXL: It’s obvious that you don’t need to rap for money, so why do you keep coming back?
NC: It’s my life. It’s one of those things where I’ve been DJing around the world for the last six, seven years. I created Wild’n Out that was based on hip-hop. I mean, to me in my mind I never left. They put a mic in front of me, I’ma still freestyle. And even right now. It’s not even like I’m trying to [be like], “Oh this my comeback.” Nah, this is just what I’ve been doin’. This is how I’ve been doin’ it. And, I think a lot of other aspects of my life— my business moves, I run a television network, I’ve been producing shows for the longest, obviously my personal life is out there. So, I feel like a lot of that stuff may have outshined what I was doing in music, but I never stopped.
XXL: Word is that you take a couple shots at Eminem on your upcoming Showtime comedy special. Is that true?
NC: [Laughs] Yeah, you could call it that. It’s more, I’m talking about the situation. I say how I feel about it. I mean it’s definitely an interesting take— I’m not trying to stir up old news. That’s the thing that my stand-up special is actually about. It’s everybody getting to hear what I have to say first-hand instead of [hearing it] through interviews and hearsay. You get to see how I feel about it. And I think that’s why a lot of people are gonna be intrigued to watch. I talk about everything from Eminem, to my marriage, to how I feel about other celebrities and all that stuff. So, it’s an interesting take. People have been buzzing about it. I’ve been on the road with it for the last year, and everywhere I go it’s a standing ovation. So, I think it should be well received.
XXL: Is there a reason you chose comedy to address the Eminem thing instead of the mic this time around?
NC: I address it in both. I been dabbling in little mixtape joints here and there. There’s some stuff that I did with the Slick Nick mixtape that’s still coming out in a little bit in which I addressed it. I addressed it in a mixtape that I got coming out called Child of the Corn. To me, it’s all entertainment. They’re all outlets for me. So, I’ma address it wherever I am— I address it every morning on my radio show in New York. So, it’s never been something I’ve been afraid to address. I been talking about it head on anytime somebody asks me about dude or the situation. I never back away from it, I welcome it.
XXL: You say, “it’s all entertainment,” but at the same time, you do have a legitimate beef, right?
NC: I mean, if I see dude, and it ain’t 10,000 body guards around, I feel like we need to have a real man-to-man. And if he’s a froggish type of dude then we both can leap. But I doubt that’s ever gon’ happen because he don’t move like that. It’s one of those things where it’s definitely entertainment, I get that, but then there’s a line you cross where you start to disrespect a man’s family in different situations. Basically for me, it goes out of the box. I’m all for the jokes, I’m all for the saying something to get the attention and get a rise out somebody, but when you start to take it extremely personal, that’s when you know that it’s bigger than that. I get why he’s trying to do it, just, don’t bark up the wrong tree.