In an episode of BETís faux reality show Real Husbands of Hollywood
, Kevin Hart
(much like the rest of urban America) takes Nick Cannon
to task for being Mr. Mariah Carey and living off of his wifeís fame and fortune. However, to dispel that notion, Cannon begins pulling checks out of every area of his body from his many, many, many successful ventures. Hart stares in awe as his many positions ranging from Americaís Got Talent
host to CEO of Ncredible entertainment are name dropped. Hart is silenced. You can hate on him if you want to, but the reality is that many people would do just about anything to have a fraction of the success Nick Cannon has had.
While in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show to promote his headphone collaboration with Monster, Cannon spoke with L+T about getting his just due from his peers, reveals some of the opportunities heís passed up on and why he would rather be Bill Cosby than Diddy.
Life+Times: Youíre a man of many hats, so what were you doing at CES?
: I, like every other person, was rocking the Beats By Dre. Monster was so impressed with my work ethic that they said that I should do a headphone too. But the question was what would make my headphones different? I grew up in the hood so I was never able to afford $400 headphones. I want the kids who grew up like I did to be able to afford my headphones. Give me everything you put in the Beats but make it affordable and thatís how it started. My brand Ncredible represents youth empowerment the same way so it brought those things together and it worked out.
L+T: Wildiní Out is making a return, what will be different about it this time out?
: This time Iím calling it Wildiní Out Raw
because everything is just raw and uncut in a sense that weíre going to another level. The show was fun and over the top before but even hip hop today is in a different place and stripped down from the glitz and the glamour. Itís more underground in a sense. Comedy is even in a different place than before. Before comedy was about who had the hottest standup. Now you have internet comedians. Weíre bringing all of that to the new show. Itís raw, stripped down, no holds barred. Weíre going at everybody like we used to. Itís going to be fun.
L+T: When you look at the changes in the industry and how to maintain relevancy what are your rules?
: Being yourself. As you see, trends come and go. But the people who maintain relevancy maintain themselves. When you chase whatís hot it never really works. Thatís what Iíve always represented. Iíve never tried to be something that Iím not. Whether cats call me corny or whatever, Iím just doing me. Eventually, if they arenít paying attention to you doing you in the beginning, they will later. As long as you maintain your own constant grind, youíll be alright.
L+T: You had the opportunity to produce the Kardashianís reality show but passed up on it. Everything canít be golden and there are other opportunities that you have missed, any others that you are kicking yourself over?
: Tons of movie stuff! Business stuff comes and goes but if I could tell you some of the roles that I have turned down because I didnít think it was going to be anything. Everything from Crash
to The Great Debators
and Red Tails
. I just didnít feel like doing those initially. But now I look at it and see how great the films were. So, as an entertainer you think everything isnít for me and it was supposed to be the way it played out. However, that happens every day in the film game. I get scripts sent to me constantly and a lot of time you donít know what it is going to be. Something can be an amazing script that you love but the producer might not be right. Or they may not have the money together or the timing just isnít right. As an entertainer I have stepped back quite a few times and said to myself that movie wasnít meant to be for me and it was great with the cast they selected.
L+T: Whatís in the future as far as acting is concerned?
: Iíve been directing a lot. I just directed my first feature for Lionsgate, a comedy. Iím inspired by people like Woody Allen
; those kinds of people that do it all and have their own brand. The Jon Favareus of the world. A lot of the films youíll see coming from me will probably be something that Iím producing, directing and happen to just act in as well. Iím just trying to make sure that the ownership is there because thatís what it is all about.
L+T: Do you feel like youíve received the respect you deserve as a man of many professions?
: I think people will understand if they havenít yet. This is only the beginning. I honestly want to be like Quincy Jones
and Bill Cosby
. Not only are they amazing entertainers and content providers, but they are amazing businessmen as well. You get cats like Diddy
and JAY Z
who are incredible and people recognize them because theyíve broken so much ground, and, yeah, I want to be like them but I really want to be like Bill Cosby and Quincy Jones. They created industries and changed culture in so many ways. People forget that Bill Cosby changed the perception of what a black family was in the 80′s. During the crack epidemic he had people believing they could be doctors and lawyers in one household. He was Americaís dad. Not to mention everything else he did in the í60s and í70s. To have a career that spans over four and five decades, thatís where Iím trying to be. Iím not worried about what the kids online are saying in the next five years, Iím worried about what theyíll say about me in 50 years. Thatís where my headspace is at. I want to provide content and consumer products that last for decades.
L+T: When you look at the landscape of our culture and how information is shared, how do you feel?
: Thereís so much opportunity out there in terms of content and technology. Everything is becoming so much more personal. Curators and tastemakers are needed more today than ever before because there is so much information out there. Itís important to be a part of that movement and have your hands around the culture and dictate where itís going. It may not be about what label or radio station you are on but it may be about how you are listening or what device you are using to consume. You canít just be an entertainer, you have to know what your brand is representing.
L+T: Still dabbling in music?
: Iíll still have my bars ready on Wildiní Out
. But as far as putting out an album? No. Iíll probably put out a few mixtapes and stay in the game that way. Iíve been DJing since high school and even during my career I find time to DJ. Iíve been professionally DJing and getting guap in a major way! I donít need to be a rapper or anything like that. As you know, the rap game is crazy. You canít get money by just being a rapper, you have to do something else. I rap for fun. Iím a huge hip hop head and a fan of the culture but am I worried about when Iím going to drop my album? Nah. I have artists that I have to take care of first. I see what they go through and I donít want to go through that. When you see the younger cats you may want to do it but Iíd rather do my thing behind the turntables.
The Business of Nick Cannon | Life+Times