Winding down after a long day of interviews and promotions, Nick Cannon was ready to switch into student mode and catch a flight back to Washington, D.C., to attend an 8 a.m. class. How does anyone keep up with this jack of all trades? He is a man who wears many hats, and he transitions between each one flawlessly. From dad, comedian, and actor to entrepreneur and musician, Cannon has done it all, and with his business and career success comes a spotlight on his every move — especially when it comes to his love life. This time he’s deciding to tell his truth with his new mixtape, The Gospel of Ike Turn Up: My Side of the Story.
We sat down with Cannon to learn a little more about the meaning behind his mixtape, his confessions of becoming a father once again, and how he stays sane while juggling it all.
Why was this the right time for you to release more music?
NC: My record label, my consumer electronics company, Ncredible, has been growing in such a great way. I’m able to give a lot of young artists opportunities like Kehlani, and people are actually building a good, strong name for themselves, but then I felt like as I was in the studio with all of these different artists, watching them come up and supporting them and being a support system to them… I had so much to say because of everything that was going on in my personal life.
Why did you decide to name it The Gospel of Ike Turn Up: My Side Of The Story? What story are you hoping to tell with this mixtape?
NC: People always laugh at the name and then get really intrigued when I say The Gospel of Ike Turn Up: My Side of the Story, but it’s almost like making a strong statement. I hear all of these rumors and gossips and they only get part of the story and they get one angle. I never get the opportunity to share my side of the story. It’s like when you even think about what Ike Turner was, he was automatically named a villain. Then he died of heartbreak because he didn’t get time to share his side of the story. Even when men do so many things that are horrible and wrong, because of things like principalities, substance abuse, they don’t get an opportunity to be remorseful and rehabilitated. Sometimes we just need to say, “I’m sorry.” I feel like I get the opportunity to speak for all of the guys that may have done wrong.
How would you describe the vibe for this mixtape?
NC: It’s open, honest, unapologetic, but it’s so right now. You know what I mean? I came up on ’80s and ’90s R&B. I started singing first then got into rapping. When you think of everybody from Bryson Tiller, to Drake, to Tory, to all of these young cats that are doing things. I was like, “Man I’ve been doing that!” I just never really presented it in that way, so I kind of set off the wave of, “Yo, I can take my real story, I can be honest.” Whether it’s sampling one of my favorite ’90s records, and flipping a beat and being able to work with some of the hottest producers that are out right now like Zaytoven, Jahaan Sweet… these are just all the guys that are working with everybody that’s poppin’ right now. We got in the lab and did some amazing stuff.
Your 17-track mixtape features many collaborations; which feature were you most excited about and why?
NC: I was really excited about K. Michelle. Her voice is so incredible, and obviously hearing K. Michelle sing over a Zaytoven beat is big. I got really, really excited about that!
Art imitates life and there’s been a lot of speculation about your music revealing some truth to your romantic life.
NC: Yeah, that’s exactly what it does! I’ve probably never been so open, so honest, and so real than I have on this entire project.
Nice, so songs like “Baby On The Way” hint at becoming a father for the third time. Is that something that’s true?
NC: Like I said, that song is as true and honest. It’s funny when I actually was writing that song, everybody in the studio, my team was like, “Why would you make a song about this?” And I was like, “Because it’s real, it’s my life. It’s something I’m actually going through.” And everybody in the studio started like, “Uh oh,” and I was like, “Man we just gonna get out here and talk about this.” I’ve been working on that record for a while, so when that story and stuff come out, it just helps me deal with it in a better way by getting an opportunity to tell my side of the story through art.
Who are your top five MCs, dead or alive, in no particular order?
NC: Tupac, Eminem, Jay Z, Slick Rick, and Andre 3000.
Speaking of Tupac, you dedicated a song to him on your mixtape.
NC: He’s the greatest to me. Our Tupac interlude is call “One Night.” “I Get Around” is still one of my favorite songs. I sang Pac’s lyrics and then I did a spoken word at the end. I felt that if Pac was to write a poem about this song, it would probably sound like this. I got to get really creative with that.
You’ve done so much in your career so far. What would you like to do in your career now that you haven’t done yet?
NC: Provide for others and help other people. I’m in that stage now… the Russell Simmons, Quincy Jones, and Diddy stage where I’m feeding off the energy of the next generation and really giving them the opportunity that will encourage them to be the best that they can be. I’ve done so much, I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do. To be able to provide opportunities for others, that’s what it’s all about.