FEATURE: Nick Cannon

FEATURE: Nick Cannon


by Kathy Iandoli


Photography by Garth Aiken


Styling by Darius Baptist


Grooming by Jackie Sanchez/Dermalogica

Hollywood’s most ubiquitous funnyman recently added father to his extensive résumé. As he makes his return to scripted comedy on Up All Night, Nick Cannon breaks down the perks of a bicoastal hustle and how sleep is the cousin of a career’s death. All the while he still asks: “Why So Serious?”

Nick Cannon barely sleeps.When he does, it’s at most for two hours at a time. It’s about 7:30 in the morning in Los Angeles and Cannon just wrapped his radio show for New York’s 92.3 NOW. He’s been up for six hours already and doesn’t seem the least bit tired. As a father to infant twins, sleep isn’t really in the cards, but he’s used to it. “I was kinda built for that,” Cannon says in his car on the way to the gym. “So ain’t too much changed.”

Nick Cannon was raised in San Diego to a family of ministers. In his younger years, he used to cut hair for kids in his neighborhood before going full throttle in entertainment. By the age of 17, he was already leading the bicoastal life, traveling to New York City for stand-up gigs in the comedy club circuit. “I always loved the hustle of New York. Out there you can really just get it more than anything. Everyone is on the grind,” he says of the Big Apple. “There are probably more opportunities in L.A., but you’ve gotta seek them out.” At 18, Cannon landed a recurring role on Nickelodeon’s teen sketch comedy show All That, a former home to other stars like Amanda Bynes and Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson. By 22, Nick had his own show on Nickelodeon called The Nick Cannon Show. Then, the film roles began, with a supporting role in Men in Black II and starring roles in Drumline opposite Zoe Saldana and Love Don’t Cost a Thing with singer Christina Milian. While comedy was the primary move, the music was always there. In 2001, Cannon signed to Jive Records, releasing his self-titled debut album in 2003. His career trajectory is only parallel to that of Hollywood superstar Will Smith’s (who he’s repeatedly been compared to in the industry), where universal acceptance rules over everything. “I just knew I wanted at least a nationwide, if not a global, appeal,” Cannon recalls. “It’s kinda how I had to do it.” [adrotate banner="25"]

After the gym, Cannon heads on set to finish an Adult Swim pilot he only describes as “hip-hop based.” Later in the week, he’ll be flying to Miami to (as Jay-Z would say) fuck up the Fontainebleau, deejaying at Arkadia. The weekend prior, the 30-year-old was spinning at the Chateau in Vegas. “I got my finger on the pulse of what’s going in the clubs,” he says. His decision to put Akon on his single, “Famous,” released earlier this year, was no doubt a bi-product of that. In the video, Cannon is dressed like MC Hammer and taking dance instructions from Debbie Allen while stretching in a neon unitard. The track appears on Cannon’s Mr. Showbiz Sings the Hits, the follow-up to his comedy album Mr. Showbiz released this past spring. He’s already tapped T-Pain and Flo Rida for the new project and additionally hopes to work with David Guetta. His rap project Children Of the Corn is also still in the pipeline. “I’m bringing fun back to hip-hop,” he says. “Everybody’s way too serious right now. People used to have fun with music back in the day. Everybody wanna talk about how much money they got, how many keys they could sell and all that. If everybody’s a drug kingpin, what is the world really coming to?” Raised on humor-filled rap acts like Digital Underground, Biz Markie and Slick Rick, Nick Cannon took his cue from those guys when it came to his own music. “It takes a person with a certain type of self-confidence to say, ‘I’ma be the silly dude. I’ma be the guy that has the good time,’” Cannon explains. “I have no problem doing that.”

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