You joked on your new Showtime special, F#ck Nick Cannon, that women are freakier than men, and you and Mariah talk about getting in as much sex as possible to keep the marriage poppin’—
Absolutely! [laughs] Older women, their sex drive be on point! Where we’re at in our lives, it’s about embracing each other and spending that quality time. Before I was married, I was in these streets heavy when it came to females. I’ve always loved women, always was a hopeless romantic. My wife had been married since she was a kid, and never had the opportunity to be herself. So it matched perfectly. Grown women know what they want, little girls are still trying to figure it out. I honestly don’t have time for games because we are so busy. We’ve got a great family, we embrace each other, we’re in love with each other more than ever. You’ve got to work to make sure your relationship stays fun and fresh.
Mariah Carey has had some high-profile exes, but you have some very visible exes also! You might find yourself sitting next to Selita Ebanks at a show...
That was crazy right?!
...or running into Christina Milian, or Kim Kardashian, or Meagan Good. Is jealousy ever an issue?
The entertainment industry is like high school. In 9th grade you might be in love with somebody and by the time you get to 12th grade, she’s in love with your best friend. It’s like a small town mentality, and if you focus on who dated who, you’ll drive yourself crazy. I always wanted a wife who I could be open and honest with, who would embrace me for me and I embrace them for them, someone who either knew me before I was famous, or someone more famous than me. My wife can have anybody she wants. She has more money than me, is way more famous than me—she must really love me for me.
Do you bring the kids and Mariah to the hood, is it cool now?
Yeah! I took Mariah to the church I grew up in, in the heart of Southeast San Diego. I showed her the projects where I grew up. I just recently moved my grandparents out of there, but I used to pull the Phantom right up across the street from 45 park, dead center of the hood. I’mma always have a footprint in southeast San Diego. I have a couple artists from the area, we about to build a community center in southeast too. My dad is instrumental in the community, with the council[people] and ministers; Dad was a gang member who became a preacher. My mom ended up marrying [my stepfather], who was really heavy in the streets, got shot seven times right outside our house. Living both those lives was crazy. I’m comfortable in any environment because Ive seen the worst, Ive seen the best.
How did you land the Chairperson of Teen Nick opportunity? Did they approach you after your body of work for Nickelodeon? Did you court them?
I always say I speak things into existence. I remember being 17 years old, [saying] “one day I wanna run this company.” My first jobs on Nickelodeon, I started as a stand-up, warm-up dude. From there, they moved me to writing for shows like Keenan and Kel and The Amanda Show. I got the opportunity to do behind the scenes before I got in front of the camera. By the time I was 19, I was the creator and producer of my own shows. Nickelodeon was my best training ground, my college even, because I was able to learn every facet of entertainment. At 28, I went into the building at Viacom, like “Yo, I’ve been here all my life. Nobody else understands this brand better than me.” I went in with my Powerpoint presentation, speaking to the executives in charge like, “I should be able to have my own network.” They gave me the opportunity, which is kind of crazy, but I was like “I’m gonna dedicate myself to this situation.”
People have called you the next Bill Cosby, the new Will Smith, the black Ryan Seacrest. What’s your ultimate ambition—to be a major CEO like Robert Johnson or Sumner Redstone?
I do wanna go there, man. I sit down every month with Phillipe Dauman, who runs Viacom, or having talked to Warren Buffett, sitting with people who have generated billions of dollars... I wanna be in those conversations. It's really about affecting culture, like that famous Tupac quote: “I may not change the world, but I guarantee you, I’ll spark the mind that changes the world.” From philanthropic efforts to entertainment to consumer products, thats how Im trying to move.
You’ve said many times that, of all the different ventures, stand-up comedy is the one that is still closest to your heart, that means the most to you. Is that still true?
Absolutely. Its how I started and even to this day its the most open and therapeutic form of entertainment in my life. I’ll just jump up onstage and go in off the top for about 15-20 minutes just to stay fresh. It’s like a sport, you just gotta stay in the gym, especially if you’ve got a big game coming up. To be able to just get onstage with a microphone—nothing else, no music, no actors, just be able to present myself at my most vulnerable and rawest form... it don't get no better than that.