Nick not only graces GIANT magazine July ’09 power issue cover, he also makes their 50 Most Influential People list 😀 .
17 Nick Cannon Actor, comedian artist, producer and entrepreneur Nick Cannon knows a thing or tow about being successful. Cannon was recently named honorary chairman and development consultant of Nickelodeon’s TEENick network. He also continues to develop programming for MTV, working with Def Jam on a teen division and has inked a syndicated radio show with Clear Channel. If all that is not enough, the 28-year-old media mogul -in-the-making is married to Mariah Carey. Must be nice.
The Pink Elephant sneers at the recession. It’s after 2:00 a.m. on a Thursday, and the Manhattan nightclub is bedazzled with the facade of splendor: Lingerie-clad dancers jiggle on platforms, waitresses shuttle bottle-service vodka and a fat-assed financier beams beneath a shower of birthday confetti. Irv Gotti sips NUVO from a champagne flute and New York Knicks guard Chris Dubon prowls the dance floor in celebration of his teams 32-50 season.
Nick Cannon stands above the fray. From an elevated DJ booth, he twirls through tracks from Jay-Z, Kanye West and Naughty By Nature while disembodied hands holding digital cameras rise like periscopes. Midway through Jamie Foxx’s apologist anthem “Blame It”, Cannon takes the needle of the wrong turntable and abruptly cuts the music-pause. He scrambles. “That’s what happens when you new to this,” he says, laughing, into the microphone. “But we gonna take it up a notch!” A moment later, Cannon is energetically rapping along with songs and the crowd has returned to writhing. As usual, he’s won the people over with the undeniable force of his personality.
Labeling Nick Cannon likable is akin to calling Bobby Knight testy. A cynic might wonder where the calibrated persona of a childhood star ends and the real Nick Cannon begins, but all that seeps through is frigging butterscotch and unicorns. The 28 year-old entertainer-if we abstain from the slashes between comedian, actor, rapper, entrepreneur and host-has an easy smile, a voice constantly on the verge of breaking into a chuckle and a natural ebullience that, when coupled with his wide eyes and sizable ears, makes him look like a cheerful mouse. The guy opens doors for strangers and greets security guards as if they’re human beings. He posts on Twitter @NickCannon and updates his blog himself on NickCannon.com, where he has hundreds of comments from fans sent directly to his phone. Oh, yeah, this walking, breathing embodiment of cordiality is not only a multimedia mogul-in-waiting-he’s also married to Mariah Carey. Sheesh
For most of his career, Cannon has been a member of the same curious caste of pied pipers as Bow Wow, Lil’ Romeo and B2K-that is, performers best known for their popularity with the kiddies. It’s a genre easily dismissed. To adults, the shallow end of the entertainment pool is fine for harmless splashing but unsuitable for pursuits with any depth. Shaking this stigma, Cannon has built a small empire in television, film and music that is now being taken seriously. He’s the face of Nickelodeon’s TEENick channel, hosts America’s Got Talent and is working with Island Def Jam to create a teen-music division. He campaigned for President Obama, hosted BET’s Inauguration Day coverage and DJ’d ABC’s Neighborhood Ball inaugural party. If that’s not enough, he also has an ongoing development deal with MTV, a new syndicated radio show with Clear Channel and is planning a release of several comedy albums. There are a few individuals as perfectly positioned to mold the pliable minds of America’s youth.
“I think the way of the world is changing,” Cannon says mater-of-factly. “I remember there being a time when I was making more money than these other dudes, when I had more fans than these other dudes but there were certain doors I couldn’t go into. But then, all of the sudden, comes *NSYNC, Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan-making millions. And it’s like, “Oh, ain’t nothing wrong with kids liking you.” The numbers support Cannon’s theory and underscore his rising profile. According to a 2008 USA Today article, marketing analysts report teens influence up to 90 percent of groceryand apparel purchases, drive household technology and remain one of the precious demographics still spending freely. When Cannon was named honorary chairman of TEENick-where he’ll develop programming and appear on-air-they prized is ability to speak to that community. “He is really tapped in to the generational attributes that we need to bring to bear,” says Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon. “I think he’s going to be a great beacon for the audience that we’re trying to attract.”
Cannon calls commandeering a sprawling corner office atop the Viacom building in Times Square his “first power move” at Nickelodeon, but it’s currently being used as a conference room. He’s stationed across the hall in a smaller space with a mini fridge of Muscle Milk, a view of cloudy skies over New Jersey and a shag carpet that leaves fluffy wisps clinging to everything (“It’s like someone stomped a poodle,” he cracks). In a black Armani suit with a Hermes belt, Cannon looks the part of an aspiring magnate. He swings his Tom Ford shoes onto a leather ottoman as his assistant details his schedule-there’s a trip to Los Angeles, a meeting with Cartoon Network and a charity event for child soldiers from northern Uganda. “Sounds interesting,” he says noncommittally. He’s calm now, but when excited, he moves like a grasshopper trapped in a glass jar: his hands chop at the air, his head swivels and he incessantly twiddles with his phone and computer. (As an energetic kid with ADD, sitting still made his “bones (hurt).”)
Cannon’s childhood wasn’t always comfortable. Beth Hackett and James Cannon were teenagers in San Diego when Nick was conceived, and were advised to terminate the pregnancy. Their dilemma inspired “Can I Live”, a song which Nick Cannon raps from the perspective of the unborn child: “Hopefully, you’ll make the right decision/And don’t go through with the knife incision.” Nicholas Scott Cannon was born unscathed on October 8, 1980. Growing up, Cannon primarily lived with his mother and grandmother in San Diego. He spent a year and a half with his father, who had moved to North Carolina shortly after Nick’s birth. Early on, he discovered a preternatural talent for entertaining. At eight, he recorded a demo song in a Christian studio, and as a preteen performed stand-up routines on his father’s cable-access program. By high school, Cannon’s rap duo-called Da Bomb Squad and sporting pimp hats and three-piece suits -had the opportunity to open for Outkast. At the concert, he met Guy Torre, a comedian who encouraged him to try stand up.
Soon, the teenager was making two hour treks to Los Angeles comedy institutions, including the Improv, the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory. He met Chris rock, Jamie Foxx and Kenan Thompson, and at 17, became a performer and writer on Nickelodeon’s sketch-comedy series All That, making him the youngest staff writer in television history. In 201. he wrote and starred in the Will Smith produced pilot Loose Cannon for the WB. “I’m the next Will Smith, because that’s what everyone is teling me,” he remembers. “I’m buying Range Rovers, had a crib in the Hollywood Hills. Then the show didnt get picked up.” After the ego check, Cannon resumed his musical career and emulation of Will Smith with a remake of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (which also featured Lil’ Romeo and 2LW) for the Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius soundtrack. In 2002, Nickelodeon-a company which seems to make a cameo in every chapter of his career-gave Cannon the chance to develop and star in his own eponymous show. Drumline,Love Don’t Cost a Thing and Roll Bounce, teen flicks all, followed. His self-titled 2003 rap album sold 200,000 copies. He was a star, albeit one twinkling in a limited corner of the cosmos.
And with the fame came the vices. Cannon has avoided the blemishes of humiliation that often accompany coming of age in the public eye, but he relishes recounting his days as a hard-partying bachelor. He avoided alcohol and only dabbled in marijuana, but indulged in women. Cannon’s exes include snger Christina Milian, socialite Kim Kardasian and Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks. “It was a sport for me,” he says. “I would date a chick and then date her sister, just to see if I could do it. Cruel stuff, which was stupid as I look back now. I wasn’t raised like that, but you get caught up.” At times, Cannon’s imprudence extended into his finances. He splurged on luxury cars (like monogrammed Bentleys) and bought jewelry for women he barely knew. In 2006, he purchased the dessicated street-wear company PNB Nation and opened a flagship store on Los Angeles’s Melrose Avenue. The showroom proved more efffective for hostng after-hours parties than for reviving the brand. “I had a great time, but it wasnt the smartest thing,” Cannon admits. “And that wasnt that long ago.”
Jamal “Gravy” Woolard hoists imself onto a couch in Cannon’s office. The heavyset Brooklyn rapper-best known for portraying a heavyset Brooklyn rapper in the movie Notorious– catches his breath and launches into a spiel involving diabetes, ghostwriting for P.Diddy and assorted near misses that have sandbagged his rap career. “Right now, I’m the talk of LA,” Gravy insists, spouting off gate-receipt numbers from the fillm. “I got white America.” Cannon, impeccable today in a plaid suit, powder-blue dress shirt, and orange tie so wide it looks tailored for his husky guest, probes for ways to help. He suggests management teams and meetings with Hollywood executives, and floats the possibility of an MTV show. “I know you ain’t about no bullshit; you want results,” Cannon says. With a sigh, Gravy agrees.
Whether engaging with rappers, actors, executives or tweeen fans, Cannon has a knack for making people feel comfortable. He talks to industry outsiders as if he has been pulled from their ranks-a regular guy who has weasled his way into a club and is sheperding his boys past the bouncers. In meetings with representatives from Six Flags and Hershey’s, he effortlessly folds marketing jargon (“synergy,” “pro-social,” “tastemakers,” “product integration”) into his wholesome hip hop persona. Often operating without notes, he rattles off ideas as if clearing brush with a machine gun. When one strikes it’s mark, he goes in for the kill. “Just put me in the room and I promise something is going to come out,” Cannon says. “It’s definitely an art form to making ‘it’ happen. And I think that comes form my stand-up background and from my acting-really knowing how to have charisma and using it to your benefit.” Maybe that’s why people love cutting him checks.
To hear him tell it, Cannon’s marriage to Mariah Carey is also the result of the particular mental electromagnetism he seems to have mastered. He had been dropping her name as a foil for questions about “celebrity crushes” for years, but it wasn’t until the 2005 Teen Choice Awards that they met face-to-face. “I’ve heard all the nice things youve been saying,” Carey tolkd him backstage, before beng whisked off by her handlers. Their romance began a few years later, when she cast Cannon as her love interest in the video for “Bye Bye”. Before the shoot they met for lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and discovered similarities between them after Cannon paused to say grace over an order of french fries. She pulled an electronic Bible from her pocketbook. “Not everyone shares spirituality,” Carey says. ” When you have that in common, it’s unique.”
Besides spirituality, an apartment in Tribeca, New York, and houses Bel Air, California, and the Bahamas, the couple share a taste for adolescent goofiness. When Cannon proposed, it was by hiding a 17-carat pink-diamond ring inside a lollipop package and presenting it to Carey on the roof of her building. He understands where her gravitation toward butterflies, rainbows and being “eternally twelve” comes from. “We know how to be highly intellectual and well -spoken,” he says “And we’ve done that for so long that we really appreciate the youthfulness, where we can be stupid and silly.” In turn, Carey sees facets of her husband that extend beyond public view. “All comedians have a darker side to them,” she says. “There’s a need to be a class clown or the funniest person in the room. It comes from somewhere. I think we both understand what it’s lke not to have the most traditional of upbringings.”
Cannon has been well known since he was a teenager, but he frequently calls his wife “the most famous woman in the world,” and admits complications accompany such a title. On Easter Sunday, the pair visited Cannon’s family in San Diego. Carey voiced concerns about paparazzi, but he insisted that bringing security or having her hair and wardrobe done were unnecessary measures. Sure enough, a photographer was lying in wait. “She was right,” he says. “And now the picture’s in US Weekly.” The photo spurred commentary about Carey’s weight on gossip blogs and sparked pregnancy rumors. “We want to be normal-we are normal,” Cannon says. “But everyone on the outside wants to put us in a fishbowl.” Bromidic celebrity gripes about privacy notwithstanding, Cannon has adapted well to this bigger pond. Most importantly, success has come on his own terms. Never has he fled from the happy-go-lucky image that made him so endearing to the masses-and in fact, pretentiousness, solemnity, self-importance or any other assumed characteristics of adulthood hold little appeal. “The thing that’s crazy to me is tha the majority of people see a person that’s likable as corny,” says Cannon. “It’s me. Everything I’ve ever wanted in life, my personality has got me that. I’m-a drive this corny-ass Phantom to the corny-ass bank and cash these corny-ass checks. I love being corny.”