It's about five minutes into my interview with Nick Cannon. The star is slouched and relaxed on the couch next to me in a room backstage at Atlanta’s Center Stage Theater—wearing the trademark Wild ‘N Out black and red that are emblazoned on the show’s logo and also decorate the green room—when he mentions, “We’ll talk about anything. There’s nothing that’s off-limits.” He's referring to how the comedians on the now-12th season of the MTV improv show refuse to shy from any area of discussion. (This proves true just an hour later as I watch from the VIP bleachers as cast members hilariously tear each other apart during a sketch called “Eat That Ass Up.”)
There were more than a few people—squad members, entourage, assistants, etc.—hanging out backstage when I walked in. They were trying to find Cannon, who was apparently in wardrobe or getting his hair done, or both. When he finally wandered in, my first impression was that he looked muscular. Up until that moment, the image I had locked away of Cannon was that of a scrawny Nickelodeon prodigy, not a buff media mogul.
Cannon once revealed that Carey’s favorite mating music happens to be her own, spilling “Can you imagine having sex with Mariah Carey while Mariah Carey is playing in the background? That is a dream come true.” He then added that their sensual soundtrack of choice was Carey’s smash hit “Hero.” I mention the playlist to Cannon, and ask if his sexual sonics have changed now that he’s single. What’s he playing, after having finalized their divorce in 2016? “Me!” he jests confidently. “It’s [my album] Calling All Models. No, it’s a little bit of everything. I always used to joke about that in the past, and now I really don’t even have time to throw on music. I’m ready to get to it. Like, let's go. Put on the playlist later!”
Now I really don’t even have time to throw on music [before sex]. I’m ready to get to it. Like, let's go. Put on the playlist later!
The actor, comedian, TV chairman of for Nickelodeon’s TeenNick and (every now and then) musician, has been dipping further into the business end of the music industry. He recently founded Ncredible, a record label, artist development and production company run through Republic Records. It’s given Cannon the opportunity to mentor up-and-coming artists, much like he says he's done Pete Davidson. Cannon and Davidson have known each other for a decade, even before Davidson appeared on Wild N’ Out in 2013, and long before his SNL fame. Cannon shares that when Davidson decided to pop the world’s biggest question to the world’s biggest pop star, one Ariana Grande, he called Cannon before he got down on one knee.
Wild ‘N Out tapings always end with a crew after-party. I’m pretty sure there may have been a no-photo rule, but even if I were to attempt snapping a photo with my iPhone, the clouds of smoke pouring out of joints and bowls and whatever else, would be too thick for my Instagram followers to determine what they’re looking at. The last thing Cannon shares with me before I head out is, “I just want to bring good energy and vibe on a high frequency." He then adds that his mission is “giving others the opportunity to step in and take over.”
Those opportunities can be seen during the party’s last call. The room is a veritable hodgepodge of young YouTube sensations, Instagram models and former Vine stars, all drinking, playing pool—and did I mention smoking? 'Cause there was a whole hell of a lot of smoking—but more importantly, enjoying their adjoined moment in the limelight they wouldn’t have had without Cannon. Out of everything I heard, experienced and saw that day, his ability to pull people to the center stage with him is, out of all of his traits and achievements, the most wild.