The Corny Brother Hall of Fame
Life lessons I learned from looking at our culture’s entertainers
Images such as the one above invoke fond memories of television series’ dedicated to showcasing the full range of black personalities. In the culture, names like Braxton and Carlton bring to mind a picture of guys who seemed aloof and who struggled with getting the attention of women. We coined a term for it: Corny.
Corny. While it is hard to trace its origins, it is a term I remember hearing a lot in the 90s as a kid. A colloquial term in our community, it was used to refer to someone whose mannerisms appear inauthentic or uninspiring. In the 90s this was one of the top insults you could leverage at a person, that is until the infamous and legendary song Scrubs by TLC was released.
While I didn’t know much, I knew that being corny was as bad as being soft. A corny dude was the bane of a woman’s world and as a kid growing up, I soon realized that I suffered from this illness.
I could not for the life of me understand why I was corny. I always regarded myself as someone who stayed true to who I was. I soon found out that the prevailing ideologies only dictated for boys to be one of two things: You could either be hard or a ladies' man.
Hence a corny dude was corny because he tried too hard to be someone he was not or he was corny because he wasn’t trying hard enough to be someone he was not. Yep. Makes sense.
If you tried to put on as if you were suave or hard and it was obvious, then you were corny. I knew this and so I did not try to be hard. I had to be myself. So when I approached ladies as a youth, I didn’t do what my peers did and try to come up with fly phrases: I just talked to them. Awkwardly.
I was corny either way it went. So like most black males eager to fit in, I did the one thing necessary to find out who I was which was to copy and emulate celebrities. I looked at how they talked, dressed, and carried themselves. I had a plan. There was nothing left but to be them. I mean myself.
You don’t have to be too smart to know this did not work. The ensuing years of identity issues I faced trying to force myself into being someone people liked is something I am still reprogramming myself out of.
But in growing up and becoming comfortable with whom I am, I learned something: The celebrities that our culture regards as corny typically were the guys who were winning. These were the guys who were business savvy, wealthy, and in a lot of cases seriously ladies' men. In the realm of corny dudes, a few names come to mind.
Names like Nick Cannon, Ray J, and Yung Berg. All the aforementioned men are not only rich, but they also have significant influence over the culture and most of all are serial ladies' men. Maybe there was something I could learn from their example.
Rule #1: Play the Long Game
When we think of the guys who ruled the 90s and early 2000s, images of guys like Taye Diggs, Omar Epps, and Shemar Moore come to mind. In the cases of the aforementioned, no one can front on their catalog of movies and roles. However, they did not parlay their success into sustained success the way their counterparts Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, and Regina King did. Morris Chestnut, Larenz Tate, Will Smith, and Denzel are the exceptions.
Guys like Nick Cannon used the success of the Nickelodeon show All That and extended his legacy into movies with Drumline and now Wildin Out. Ray J moved into music after the television show Moesha then moved into reality tv with his For the Love of Ray J show. From there he moved onto Love and Hip-Hop before moving into electronics with his Raycon headphones.
Hitmaka, or Yung Berg, used the reality show platform like Ray J to get his start and then rebranded him as a producer and songwriter, scoring hits with songs like Bounce Back by Big Sean, Party by Chris Brown and Questions, and Nasty by Kid Ink.
The coolest man is the man who stands the test of time.
Ray J's tech company 'Raycon' hits $10M in sales in less than a year
Ray J can officially add booming businessman to his resume after it was announced that his electronics company, Raycon…
Rule #2: You can be close to it all and not be in any of it.
Nick Cannon Comes Clean About His Past Gang Ties
Nick Cannon DJing in New York City. As a doting dad and MTV2 host with the most, Nick Cannon certainly walks the…
Ray J and Nick Cannon’s relationship with former record label owner Suge Knight is a constant reminder to me you don’t always have to be a gangster to be cool with them. Sometimes the best place to be is to be on good terms with them and to know you can reach out to them for advice and help when necessary.
Ray J’s close relationship with Suge Knight led to rumors that Suge signed over his rights to him while incarcerated. Regardless of its validity, the fact his peers' respect him shows how you can be close to the streets and not in them. Nick Cannon spoke of his gang ties in an interview released in 2014.
Despite his ties to these groups, he’s made a career out of being an actor, comedian, and mostly respectable role model. His Cannon’s Class segment and Power 106 Interviews Nick Cannon in the Morning are both influential segments that gave us notable moments.
Rule 3: Your Deeds Will Speak for Themselves
How MTV's 'Wild 'N Out' Became A Cross-Platform Hit
The improv and sketch comedy series has gone from a pre-social-media cable show to a brand that transcends television.
The brothers we say who are corny have done all the things we praise the greats for. They’ve made a lot of money, partied and dealt with beautiful women, and achieved some level of success in their career. When we scan the culture and look under fashion, music, film, and dance we see their figures hovering above the art forms.
These men are pioneers, who we will acknowledge when it is all said and done. They were themselves and in the process won.
What Nick Cannon has done with his television show, Wild N Out, is unparalleled and has helped spark the careers of other comedians like Katt Williams, Kevin Hart, Affion Crockett and DC Young Fly.
In one of his comedy segments entitled F**K Nick Cannon, he spoke on the criticism and negativity he faces online from fans and strangers. His response encapsulates the sentiment of this message perfectly.
I’ll go on the internet and Twitter and see all this negativity and at first I was like why!?! I don’t know you. They’d say something like, you’re just corny. It hurt my feelings at first. Like damn is this what people think about me? Then I said you know what, you damn right I’m corny! Corny people unite. I’m so corny I’m finna drive this corny ass Ferrari to this corny ass bank and cash this corny ass check!!