Prior to receiving his start in the entertainment world as an actor on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show “All That,” Nick Cannon says he grew up in a neighborhood where being a gang member “was kinda the thing.”

The musician/actor says he never joined a gang, but was surrounded by gang culture while growing up in Southeast San Diego. He also recalled wearing certain colors during a time in which gang culture was heavily glorified.

“Man, you know what? I wouldn’t say I joined a gang,” Cannon said during an interview with Vlad TV. “It wasn’t like the Boys & Girls Club where you can walk up and sign up. I grew up in a neighborhood in Southeast San Diego—this public assistance area called Bay Vista. And that was kinda the thing. The cats you grew up with…Actually, if anything I was always trying to get away from it. Of course, during the early ‘90s when it was glorified I definitely was wearing my Dickies and certain colors and the Chucks.”

Before admitting that he’s never tried to glorify the gang lifestyle, Cannon revealed that it was a Blood set he grew up around.

“It was a Blood set, but it was one of those things where that’s the area that I grew up in,” he said. “I mean, even if you think of Southeast San Diego, the majority of the people from down there are from different Blood sets. So, it was one of those things where I never even tried to glorify that because I felt like I got out of that unscathed. I mean, I lost a lot of friends to senseless gang violence. A lot of people still locked up right now. So, I always try to downplay it and be like that cat that was allowed to get away from it.”

Lastly, the actor spoke on the moment when he realized that choosing a life as an entertainer in Hollywood far outweighed remaining in Southeast San Diego where shootings and other senseless acts of violence were very much present.

“I remember that day,” Cannon said when asked about being shot at. “It was interesting too cause it was a time actually during high school where I felt like I was at a crossroads. I actually remember even having this conversation with my family. Like ‘Yo, a lot of my friends are getting shot. A lot of people I know, close to me are dying. I have an opportunity to be in this entertainment thing.’ And obviously everybody wants to be successful at something. But when one day people are shooting. There’s drive-bys at your school. And you’re going to football games and not really making it home. And the next day you can take a train ride to Los Angeles and don’t have to deal with any of that cause you’re in Hollywood. Yo man, once Nickelodeon called I locked in. I forgot about all of that stuff.”

Nick Cannon’s interview with Vlad TV comes days after the April 1st release of his most recent project, White People Party Music. Cannon spoke briefly on the project during an interview with HipHopDX last month.

“If anybody thinks it’s a real risk, they’re ridiculous,” he said. “That’s the whole thing: It’s a title that creates conversation…I’m trying to show that that’s not really what it’s about. White people love me and they know how to have a good time. I’m just putting it all together.”

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