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Many of us were introduced to the flair of Nick Cannon when he starred as the misunderstood Devon Miles in Drumline, or recognized his wit from his early days on Nickelodeon’s “All That.” Since then, the star has matured and now at 39 years old, Cannon sits atop an empire built on his own merit. His success comes from not only his creative ideas and knack for comedy, but his genuine tenacity to get things done.
“I’ve always had great dreams and visions,” he told REVOLT in our exclusive interview, as he spoke about realizing his full potential.
Cannon has emerged as one of this generations top talents. With a professional career spanning decades, the musician/actor/comedian/host/producer/entrepreneur has left his mark in many lanes in the world of entertainment. One fun fact is that he used his own money to invest in the pilot of “Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out” and in 2005, MTV debuted it. From then on, he has reached many more career milestones. The hip hop-infused sketch comedy television show has grown into its own franchise, which includes a live tour — now postponed due to Coronavirus — restaurants, and Cannon says a “Wild ‘N Out” home came will be here pretty soon.
The star also serves as host on the hit series “The Masked Singer” and is preparing for his new daytime talk show set to premiere this fall. Still, he remains committed to doing the work he sees as impactful and important.
Last year, Cannon decided to continue one leg of the marathon initiated by Nipsey Hussle after the rapper’s tragic murder. He began working to finish the documentary that Nipsey was producing prior to his his death. The film chronicles holistic medicine practitioner Dr. Sebi and his legal battles against the federal government. After recently sharing the official trailer, Cannon is sure that viewers will be satisfied in his completion of the fallen rapper’s vision.
“Yeah, I think [it] kind of speaks for itself. I mean, I think people are gonna be really excited when they see… come out and they’re gonna learn quite a bit from it,” Cannon said of the upcoming documentary.
We caught up with the mogul to learn more about his Dr. Sebi project, “Wild ‘N Out,” which 15th season premieres on April 21; and his major keys for financial literacy and black ownership. Read our exclusive chat with Cannon below!
What was the motivating factor behind continuing Nipsey Hussle’s documentary, Strong Enemies: The Untold Case Of Dr. Sebi?
One of the conversations that Nip (Nipsey Hussle) and I would have was about health and wellness in our community, and specifically Dr. Sebi, dealing with my own health. I saw that he had picked up that interest. So, I was like, why not pick up that baton and finish that part of his legacy for him? That was something that we shared a likeness on. From that moment, I just jumped in and picked it up. I never wanted it to feel like it was clout chasing. I figured, as a filmmaker, that was something where I can continue the legacy and know that he and his family will be proud of the product that we put forth.
Dr. Sebi’s work is controversial among people in our community. How do you think this documentary can help either side of the debate and the general impression of him?
Now, more than ever, our communities need to understand the importance of health, wellness and taking care of your body, and building the immune system up. I think one of the missions of Dr. Sebi was really building yourself up with the proper alkaline diet, so when your body is attacked, that it is strong enough to defeat certain things. It’s putting your body in a position whether it’s AIDS, lupus, diabetes, sickle cell — a lot of these things that affect our community directly, and educating people on how to handle this stuff from a holistic manner. There are systems such as Big Pharma and government that make a huge profit off of people getting sick. When you put those things together, those are all facts that can’t be argued.
Do you think the doc will change how celebrities use their platforms to speak on health or that we will achieve a balance between holistic methods and traditional science?
I’m a prime example. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. If I break my leg, I’m going to the hospital. I’m not putting no minerals on it. There is a method for holistic and herbal treatments. Ultimately, where do you think the hospitals and Big Pharma got their ability to create medicine? It all comes from the earth. There’s a method and a process. When you start to profit off of it, you almost want people to be sick because that creates an industry. We just want to fight against that. Hopefully, the documentary will show people that there can be a healthy balance, and all we want to do is offer facts and not perpetuate fear, and not perpetuate fables. But, really just give people the facts, specifically in our community, to show how powerful we are when we do take care of ourselves and one another.
The trailer for Strong Enemies: The Untold Case Of Dr. Sebi says it’s coming soon. Do you have a potential timeframe that you’re hoping to premiere it for hopeful viewers?
Honestly, I’m really looking for all of the big film festivals if they still happen. The goal was always TIFF — the Toronto film festival — and Sundance. Those are the two big places that have the most awareness and attention. We feel like this is an award-winning documentary. So, we want to go through that process that all of those documentaries have. Taking it all the way to the Oscars next year.
“Wild ‘N Out’s” season 15 premiere is April 21. Did you ever imagine that it would become something as big as it is now?
The fact that we have restaurant franchises, and toys and games, world tours selling out arenas, I didn’t think it would be that massive. When you think of going to 300 episodes, and however long we actually end up going, it’s already gone beyond my expectations. But, I feel like the direction is going to continue to go up and [it] really sparked something that has never been done before in comedy and hip hop.
Do you think you will continue to expand to cover more areas of hip hop?
I always tell people “Wild ‘N Out” is the most progressive show on television when you think about it. We deal with the culture in a way that nobody else does. We don’t beat around the bush. We cross lines. We have everybody on there from transgender rappers to people from different ethnic backgrounds battling it out; making stereotypical, offensive jokes. But, at the end of the day, we’re all friends. We all hug it out. That’s really what the culture is about. Accepting everybody, and being unapologetic and not afraid to talk about stuff, and to do it in a fun environment. I think a lot of times, people take themselves so seriously. We kind of put it out there. We can’t take a day for granted, we can’t take a person for granted. So, we’re gonna come out here and have as much fun as we possibly can. It’s a rap concert. It’s a stand-up contest. All of that. It’s a good time.
How important is it for you to continue to use “Wild ‘N Out” to highlight rising talent?
That was the initial reason for even creating the show in the first place. [It] was to create that platform that allows people to shine and take them to the next level. Hopefully, we can continue to do that and continue to create stars, and continue to give people opportunities, whether it’s in their music careers or comedy careers. We really are that launchpad for a lot of next-level stars of the next generation.
What can fans expect from the new season?
We just put it on its head. We flipped it. I kind of got rid of the team colors, and really just went old school versus new school. We had a lot of fun. I’m the captain of the old school squad. I let DC be the Captain of the new school squad. And we bring a lot of old school rappers, comedians, and entertainers, and put them on my team, and we bring all the young kids and “SoundCloud rappers,” and we put them on DC’s team and we battle it out. It’s a whole new vibe and whole new energy on the show. It takes that battle to the next level.
It’s great to see how the show has evolved especially relating to ownership and financial literacy. How can people without a platform such as “Wild ‘N Out” adopt a similar mindset?
There are billion-dollar businesses in our communities that we support and we fund. Imagine if we control those, if we own those franchises, and those businesses instead of letting people from the outside come in and patronizing us at the same time. If it was our ability and our dollar, and it started there, and we kept the dollar in the community, it would be astronomical the amount of revenue we would generate.
I feel like “Wild ‘N Out” is an example by trying to create as many millionaires and superstars as possible, and allowing their brands to flourish — when you see Hitman Holla sparking his own rap career or Conceited having a sneaker show. We have all of these different brands that started off of one brand. It’s the same concept as “each one, teach one.” You light one candle and before you know it, the whole community lit.
How would you advise someone who’s currently in the position you were years ago, when you had this great idea, and took the risk of investing in yourself?
Always invest in yourself and always bet on you. You have the vision. Other people will join in and support you, but you gotta be the first dollar in. You gotta be willing to take the shirt off your back and say, “I believe.” That in itself will rally all the other people that you need to accomplish your mission. If I ever give anybody advice, you gotta step out on faith. There’s nothing better than stepping out on faith on your own vision. A lot of people will have faith in other people’s visions, which is cool. There’s nothing wrong with that… When you come through being an entrepreneur, that’s really what it is. People who believe in themselves and are willing to put their own money up. That’s the first step in business, stepping out on your own and applying your own principles, as opposed to just following someone else’s.
What kind of financial advice would you give to someone who may not be well off?
If you’re one of those people just trying to figure it out, get with somebody else and y’all put something together. Whether y’all start a rap group or record label or whatever the hustle is. Don’t try to do it by yourself, try to do it with your family. Try to do it with people that you know, that support you during the hard times. I will always say none of us is as great as all of us.
Historically, in our communities, financial wealth and ownership have been restricted by systematic racism. How do you think we, as a people, can continue to grow?
Knowing our history, those are just testament[s] to the things that we have overcome as a people. The slave trade to Jim Crow to civil rights to COINTELPRO to where we are today. It just shows that we are people of great resilience. To have that spirit of resiliency in a way that no matter which way they try to box us in, we always jump outside the box and overcome every obstacle — and we did it together. Nothing that we ever overcame was done by [alone] and that just shows that if we knew the power that we have, with the community together, we will be able to overcome any obstacle and continue to build resiliency. Whether it’s in entertainment, whether it’s in business and entrepreneurship, whether it’s in activism, the more that we invest in ourselves and build ourselves up, the stronger the community.
In 2020, what does black ownership look like to you?
In today’s day and age, it’s less about financial ownership, but it’s ownership within yourself, and not falling victim to allow someone else to control your mindset and mentality. We’ve been chasing the bag for so long that we’ve lost integrity and character. So, the bag is there, but when you think about the bag, it is almost a fictitious concept. There’s only 3% of physical money in circulation. So, how important is it for you to constantly chase the bag, and constantly trying to be a billionaire, which is all well and great, but once you get to that point, what are you doing for your community?
Character is true currency. Integrity is true currency. Do you have ownership over yourself, your concepts, your community, your culture, or are you selling it short for the bag? If you’re really trying to elevate and take it to that next level — because the pandemic is showing everybody Coronavirus doesn’t care how much money you have or how big your houses are or where you live — it is a leveling factor. It really makes you step back and really evaluate who you are as a person.
Black ownership in 2020 should be ownership over yourself, and your concepts, and your culture.