Nick Cannon talks about balancing his many different careers and his children in our exclusive interview, revealing he averages about two to four hours of sleep each night.
Nick Cannon is the true definition of a go-getter, a unicorn in the entertainment industry. The San Deigo native is someone who works tirelessly, juggles multiple careers (and that could be viewed as an understatement), hosts his own talk show, gives everyone around him opportunities (as seen on Wild ‘N Out), and still manages to find time to be a father and loving partner to seven children and four baby mamas.
Among his careers, Cannon is now reviving one that’s oft-forgotten. Cannon is currently celebrating the release of a new project titled RAW & B, bringing back that old-school nostalgic feel from the golden era of R&B. The boasts all-star appearances from hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross and 42 Dugg, alongside Chris Brown, Brandy, Ty Dolla $ign, K. Michelle, Jacquees, and even a Babyface record. Cannon described the project as “the gospel of my broken soul, this is as real as it gets.”
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With three decades in the game, Cannon has come a long way since his self-titled debut studio album released in 2003. But what is he most excited about, these days?
HotNewHipHop had the pleasure of attending an exclusive, private listening session for RAW & B, interviewing Cannon afterward to discuss his long-standing multi-faceted career, how he juggles his growing family, and his thoughts on Young Thug and Gunna’s indictment.
Stream RAW & B here.
HNHH: Do you like doing interviews or being interviewed?
Nick Cannon: I definitely like interviewing people better than being interviewed. I think it’s more natural. I like them both, it doesn’t matter. I like conversation.
Is there a question you hate being asked?
Not really. You know me, I’m an open book. Nothing really bothers me.
Loved hearing your project RAW & B today. What inspired you to get back in the studio?
I never left. If you think about it, I never really get in there for myself that much. I’m always producing, writing, even if it’s music for television. All the stuff you see on Wild ‘N Out to my other artists — that’s the thing: I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of songs. So the fact that now I get to put stuff out, that’s what I missed. And I had to be convinced because I’m a CEO. I don’t need to put out music anymore, I can give other people opportunities.
People are so appreciative of me putting new acts on, being that conduit. Being somebody that really is a curator of the culture and all this for the next artist. But then yo, I still do this too. I haven’t reached my fullest potential as a musician. As an adult now, I can actually pick up the guitar, the drums, all of that. I played guitar on a bunch of songs on the album. The “Pussy is Fire” record, I played guitar on that. It’s stuff like that as a musician where I get to dive in.
What musicians do you look to for inspo these days as opposed to when you were growing up?
Stevie Wonder, having him be a personal friend. I actually got to do a record with Stevie Wonder too, that’s going to be on the album.
The Raw & B project?
That’s the mixtape, but the album-album got Stevie on it. We got some heavy hitters on the mixtape, but Stevie’s on the album.
How was that working with him? Legendary.
It was a dream come true. I never got to work with nobody else ever again, I got a record with Stevie Wonder.
How did it feel playing Raw & B for everyone before it drops?
I loved it. It’s as raw as it gets, it’s me. I was a little nervous, not even nervous but the idea of emoting and putting all these different emotions out there. How it’s going to be taken. Again, I know it could be some toxicity in there. It could be some egotistical approaches. But at its core, it’s me trying to be the best individual I can possibly be.
What’s one thing you want to get from this project?
The authenticity, the rawness. The realness, the aspect of this is who I am. I feel like people have an idea who they think I am, because they see it on TV and they see certain images that are portrayed, but at least this gives the opportunity to show you every aspect of me.
You asked us what our favorite song is. What’s your favorite song?
I love the Chris Brown record, “I Do.” Then I love the Brandy record. That’s the last record that I played, the joint with me and Brandy.
We love Brandy!
That was crazy, she’s the GOAT. She’s the greatest. She vocal produced me on that joint, just got me right. It was cool.
Are you going to be rapping on the album then?
The album, it’s a little mixture of both. I’m singing and rapping. It’s not a lot of rap though, I’ve really been in my singing bag lately. If I got to drop a 16 here or there, I will. But it’s more all soulful.
What is your schedule like when it comes to juggling music, TV, radio, and all your children?
[laughs] I mean, children are first and foremost. They’re the #1 priority, then everything else falls in suit. Great time management, energy management more than anything. Time is man-made, but energy is God-given. It’s one of those things where you focus on the thing that gives you the most energy, you’ll never be tired. My kids give me energy. Music gives me energy. When you do things that you love, you get energy. You get exhausted and tired when you have to “work.”
“Time is man-made, but energy is God-given. It’s one of those things where you focus on the thing that gives you the most energy, you’ll never be tired.”
Damn, I’m inspired.
Do you have a very strict schedule during the day to get everything done? How do you manage?
I go with the flow, wherever the energy takes me. I do have, especially because my kids have schedules. Whether it’s any aspect of keeping it moving based off of my office, setting a daily calendar and a schedule. But it varies every day. Obviously, start the day off super early. I’m in the gym at 6 am, I’m doing all that stuff. Then I’m doing my morning syndicated radio show, either right before that or simultaneously during the gym. From there, taking the kids to school. It rolls all the way out. By the time we get early afternoon, we get it cracking.
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How much sleep does Nick get?
Somewhere like three hours? Sometimes two, but three every night. But I sleep in pretty hard on a Sunday. Sunday I get mad sleep, but everywhere else… two to four hours.
That’s crazy. I remember at the station, you used to fly to D.C. every week…
To go to school. Even today, literally I landed this morning from New York. Doing this, then fly back out to Atlanta tomorrow. It’s always just moving. That’s where I get my best sleep, is on the plane. Forreal.
If you could only choose one job out of the many you do right now, what job would you pick?
Father. [laughs] I’d definitely be a father over anything. But if we’re talking career-wise, probably music. In that sense of it’s a great outlet, it’s therapeutic. I’ll choose that over anything.
How was Mother’s Day for you?
It was amazing. It’s funny, I saw I was trending.
You’re always trending Nick!
But in that sense, I think everybody thought, “Yo, I bet you Nick Cannon is busy today!” I was though. I had an opportunity to celebrate all the mothers in my life, but I celebrated my own mother and grandmother more than anything. I spent the day with my mom and my grandmother, so it was a great Mother’s Day.
“I think everybody thought, “Yo, I bet you Nick Cannon is busy today!” I was though. I had an opportunity to celebrate all the mothers in my life, but I celebrated my own mother and grandmother more than anything.”
Do you plan with each baby mama?
You got to! Everybody deserves their respected amount of time and deserves to be celebrated, in the way that makes them feel good. There’s only so many hours in a day, but the goal is to make sure that everybody knows that their presence is felt and that their value is appreciated.
How do you figure out who gets a visit or not?
[laughs] Everybody gets a visit. They have to. And you want to make it more than just a visit, you want it to be quality time. Again, we celebrate these materialistic holidays, but it’s all from the purpose of honoring family. And that’s what I have, I have such a great reverence and respect for the individuals who helped me build families. More than just that day, it has to be every day.
Talk about your debut album 19 years later, and the nostalgia that comes with it.
My first real album dropped in 2003. That was a good time too. Everybody I got to work with on my debut album, it’s crazy. You think about… it was everybody who was at the top of the game at the time, from Diddy to Mary J. Blige to R. Kelly to Pharrell to Kanye. I worked with everybody on that first album, that was a good time.
Is there someone you want to work with, that you haven’t yet?
After Stevie Wonder, I’m good. You know what though? I want to tell you people I’m a fan of. I’d love to work with Summer Walker or SZA, any of the women in R&B that are killing it right now. Jazmine Sullivan, all the women are killing it.
I like Mariah the Scientist.
Yeah, she’s been on Wild ‘N Out! She’s dope. Ari Lennox, she’s so dope. Muni Long. Their pen and their voice tones, all that. It’s crazy.
Do you have any goals at this point?
To wake up each and every day, and try to do better than I did yesterday.
Do you have any thoughts on the Thug and Gunner Rico situation?
Man, it’s heartbreaking. Those brothers, one thing we’ve seen of them is their love for their people and their love for their community. For someone to try to come after them because they feel like they’re “organized,” you know what I mean? That shows that the system isn’t designed for us. The system isn’t for us. Ultimately, the truth will prevail.
“Those brothers [YSL], one thing we’ve seen of them is their love for their people and their love for their community. For someone to try to come after them because they feel like they’re “organized,” you know what I mean? That shows that the system isn’t designed for us.”
Whatever the scenario is and whatever charges that are placed upon them and all the individuals that got indicted, I just pray for them. Because I don’t feel like no one deserves to live in a box. We got to fix the system, especially when people are actually trying to do better for the community and put people on. So it’s heartbreaking, it’s definitely heartbreaking.
I think they used their rap lyrics against them? That part to me is…
Yeah, that’s out of pocket. You wouldn’t use an actor’s acting scene, so why would you use someone who’s clearly making entertainment? You use that against them in a court of law.
I remember I had Rosa Acosta on my show Shirley’s Temple, and she was so grateful because you always look out for her every time. You’re so generous to everyone!
You gotta be! Too much is given, much is required. We’re blessed so we can be a blessing. That’s that reciprocated energy. If you give out, you’ll get back. You don’t even have to be looking for something in return or any acknowledgment. If you could be a conduit, you could build a platform where others are going to shine and others are going to eat, that’s what it’s all about as far as you say that. It’s funny you say that, I even heard Thug say that about putting his people on. And Gunna’s. He put on for his family, he wants to give other people the opportunity to put on for their family.
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Anything in film we should be looking out for?
Yeah, we got a couple of things. We filming a movie this summer. We had a Christmas movie last Christmas, so we’ll probably do a little sequel to that for next year. We always cooking in that space. I’ve been doing a lot obviously in music, developing other projects for TV and streaming. That’s where my head is. Before I jump in and direct another movie, I’ll maybe take a couple little, small acting roles to keep the chops where they need to be. Then I’ll jump back in my bag with directing.
Anything else you want to let the people know?
You talk about the album, what you think about it?
It was fire! I literally tweeted this morning: I love me some R&B.
Yeah, I’m trying to bring that R&B vibe back. Especially for the dudes. Come on fellas, the ladies are killing us right now. Let’s jump back in our R&B bag and bring it.
And it’s super relatable. How was that cover art shoot though?
[laughs] It was fire, literally. We leaned into it. We’re having fun with it. To be able to do it with somebody that you have a great love and respect for is always cool.