Nick Cannon said it himself: "We're here to be fruitful and multiply."
He explained to ABC News in 2016, "That's what our beings are made for, so we can raise our offspring up so they can have offspring, and [produce] generations after generations."
At the time a father of twins with soon-to-be ex-wife Mariah Carey, the actor and Masked Singer host said he was "not against" having more kids. "I talk about that all the time," he said. "I love children. Everybody knows that. Whether it's having more of my own, or adopting, whatever, I love that process. Kids kind of bring that vibrant side [out] of me so whenever I can be a part of that process I'm with it."
Consider Cannon a man who doesn't just talk the talk.
The 42-year-old, who on Oct. 8 is celebrating his own day of birth for a change, has since embarked on a procreating odyssey that most recently resulted in the arrival of a baby the public did not know was coming—his ninth child, and first with model LaNisha Cole—followed two weeks later by the birth of his third child with Brittany Bell.
"Once again Today I am in Awe of the Devine Feminine!" Cannon posted Sept. 15 in announcing the birth of daughter Onyx Ice Cole Cannon. "God has given me and @MissLanishaCole the privilege of hosting an Angel here on earth. I vow to protect, provide, guide and love this child to the best of my abilities."
In a preemptive shush, he added, "I promise to love this little girl with all my heart. Regardless what anyone says…I've given up on attempting to define myself for the world or society but instead I'm doing the work to heal and grow into the infinite being God ordained me to be."
On Sept. 30, Cannon announced Bell had given birth to Rise Messiah Cannon "after 48 hours of excruciating pain and life risking danger."
"I am so indebted and grateful for the matriarch energy in my time of need," he wrote. "@missbbell has been the rock and foundation of my Fatherhood journey. She has taught me so much about parenting, psychology, spirituality, love and just life in general."
And then he took Abby De La Rosa, who hasn't confirmed the paternity of her third child yet, on a babymoon. They're parents to 16-month-old twins Zion Mixolydian and Zillion Heir together.
So it remains undeniable that the guy who said he was here to be fruitful and multiply—and would never be in a traditional relationship with a woman again—is to date a man of his word.
"I'm spending time [with a woman], she means something to me," Cannon told a rapt Howard Stern in February 2017 when the SiriusXM host wanted to know why, if the Real Husbands of Hollywood star wanted to date around, he didn't take it upon himself to use birth control methods. At the time, Bell was pregnant with Golden.
"I care about her, I'm not just—I'm over my groupie years," Cannon explained. "That's when I used to keep 30 condoms with me...So, in the idea, this is like, 'Yo, this is meaningful.' I tend to not have sex with people unless I feel like this is someone that I wouldn't mind having a child with."
While the Drumline star was previously engaged to model Selita Ebanks, proposing in Times Square with the help of the MTV JumboTron in 2007, he's said that Carey was the one who made him feel ready to start the family he so wanted.
And vice versa, the Grammy winner detailing in her 2020 autobiography The Meaning of Mariah Carey that, by the time she met Cannon, she had pretty much resigned herself to not becoming a mom. The ex-Mrs. Tommy Mottola also did not want to get remarried, she recalled.
"Having children together became our reason," Carey, 53, wrote of herself and Cannon. "Our desire to have children became a force of nature and why we got married so quickly."
Cannon recalled to Variety in June 2020, "We were both at this place where relationships really aren't our thing but we like each other. We talked everything out. What if this and what if that. We talked about how much fun it would be if we just got married three weeks into knowing each other.
"It was more that whimsical fantasy idea of let's have as much fun as we possibly can and when it no longer feels like fun, when it feels like a task and a job, then we should amicably be able to move on."
Realizing three weeks was just bonkers, they waited six weeks, tying the knot April 30, 2008, in the Bahamas.
They did try to start having a family right away, too, just as they wanted, but Carey lost a pregnancy at the end of 2008. They found out right before Christmas, when they had planned to share their joy with the world.
"It kind of shook us both and took us into a place that was really dark and difficult," Carey told Access Hollywood in October 2010. "When that happened… I wasn't able to even talk to anybody about it. That was not easy."
Added Cannon, "It definitely brought us closer together. It strengthened our relationship so much… She handled it so well."
And there were happier times ahead, as it was in that interview that they revealed they were expecting again. Carey was nervous about saying it out loud because of the past trauma, but she said she was at the point in her pregnancy where "I either talk or I hibernate."
"The greatest gift on earth is a child," Cannon said. "We've had names picked out from the first day we met and we want to stay true to that."
"Names" being the operative word, because it turned out that twins were on the way—news Carey first broke to Barack and Michelle Obama, during the December 2010 taping of the Christmas in Washington concert special.
"And at this point she hadn't told anybody anything because doctors advised us to keep it to ourselves until we get further along," Cannon told his morning radio show audience after the Obamas joined their inner circle. "And because of the excitement, because of the emotion, she was overwhelmed, she shared with the president and first lady that we are having twins."
Daughter Monroe and son Moroccan were born on April 30, 2011, their parents' third wedding anniversary. The couple, who were fond of vow renewals in their day, had their ceremony that year at the hospital.
But while they were madly in love with their kids, Carey and Cannon started to fall out of sync with each other within a few years, taking time apart in 2014, reconciling and then separating again before Cannon filed for divorce in December 2015.
In June 2016, Cannon said in an interview that they were getting along well, he was happy for Carey's newfound happiness with her Australian billionaire fiancé James Packer, and they were "diligently moving things along" in their divorce proceedings.
He also said, "I've been reflecting quite a bit on my life as a father and how I want to be the best one I can be, the way my father figures were to me. So with that said, I just ask that the public continues to respect our process and remain patient and loving as me and my family aim for happiness."
Talking to Variety in 2020, he said his and Carey's almost-inevitable breakup "made us say, 'Let's co-exist for the betterment of our children.' We're doing whatever we can to make sure their upbringing is as healthy as can possibly be and that we're as healthy as we can possibly be. And that's where we are to this day."
Carey, who wasn't in a holding-back mood in her memoir, had only positive things to say about the father of her now 11-year-old children. "We will always be family, and we make it work," she wrote. "We still have fun, reminisce and joke. And we both are certain that Roc and Roe are indeed our light. Every day they give us new life."
"She came at me first about it, so it was actually easier," Cannon told Los Angeles' Power 106 about his ex-wife's reaction to his quick turnaround. "I don't know how she heard about it, but she called me, and she was funny with it. She was like, 'Mmmhmm, I heard about you out here in these streets.'"
Asked if his incoming new addition was a surprise, he said he most definitely was not having "an 'oops baby.' I'm so calculated with my moves...I've always wanted five kids. Just because my marriage was over didn't mean I couldn't continue my family."
"I wanted to make sure it was someone who was solid, spiritual and had the same views," Cannon added. "She's been in my life. Our families grew up in the same projects together in San Diego. So there's a lot of substance there."
He and Bell welcomed son Golden on Feb. 21, 2017.
"She's amazing, and [even] more beautiful internally," Cannon said of the former Miss Guam and Miss Arizona USA on The Howard Stern Show shortly before their baby was born.
When Stern teased Cannon about barely having time for the two kids he already had, the merry multitasker chuckled, insisting, "That's not true. Yes [I have time], I love children, this is going to be amazing!" All of the kids were going to be in the same city, he explained, and he didn't foresee any issues with blending families.
"He's a good guy," Carey told Entertainment Tonight that June of Cannon and co-parenting. "It's not that hard to make it work. Now we can laugh, and joke, and do the good parts of when we had a relationship." She even had a nice Father's Day plan for him—and he always made sure she had special Mother's Days, she said.
Doting-dad status aside, Cannon made something clear to Stern and Robin Quivers when she asked what Monroe and Moroccan would call his next wife: "I'm never getting married again! Hell no!" he exclaimed. "That doesn't make sense, marriage is not for me."
Explaining the reasoning behind that sweeping statement, he said, "Marriage is supposed to make you better, right? I'm good [as is]. I feel like I'm evolved and, like, it becomes stressful for me. Even my doctor said, like, if I'm in a relationship, that could f--k up my whole..."
There was a lot of interrupting, with Quivers suggesting that perhaps a relationship that caused health issues wasn't the right one. (Cannon has lupus and has been candid about his related health struggles.)
A couple years later, Cannon's views on marriage hadn't changed—and he didn't think much of monogamy, either.
"I think I'll never be able to be with just one woman again," the father of three told T.I. on the rapper's expediTIously podcast in September 2019. "Like, that's gonna be tough for me. I did it in a marriage! I was very faithful in my marriage…the whole time I was married."
"The reason why we split up, it had nothing to do with infidelity or nothing like that," he continued. "But I knew I would never get married again. Once I stepped away from that, I was like, that construct is not designed for me. And so I gave it my all—'cause even before that I was like, 'I don't believe in marriage.' But s--t, it was Mariah Carey. Whatever she say, I'm with it! She want to say we was going to the moon, I'm like, 'Let's go!'"
They laughed, as T.I. acknowledged he had "married well."
Cannon agreed, "If I'mma marry somebody, I'mma marry her!"
T.I. noted, "It don't look like you've looked back since."
Cannon replied, "Right, exactly. So but I just know, like even in that thing, like I know I'll never be in a relationship again, I know I'll never get married again. So I'm tryin' to fix that s--it up." Meaning, "I don't want to be responsible for anybody else's happiness...Like, I'm still trying to get my s--t together."
He wanted to have more kids, he said, but he also reiterated that stress puts him in the hospital "and, to me, all relationships equal stress. I ain't never been in a relationship that wasn't stressful, whether I'm putting the stress on myself or whether she puttin' the stress on me."
When asked about it, Cannon told T.I. he respected people who chose the polyamorous lifestyle, "but me personally, that's too much of a construct with too many rules in it. Like I don't want to answer to nobody, I don't want five or six [partners]. I want to be by my goddamn self."
"Forever," he vowed. "I got 'lonesome' tattooed on my neck, I'm good."
Forever, maybe, but not all the time.
"I love women," Cannon added. "I love various women, and they understand how I move!"
Bell revealed on Instagram on June 13, 2020, that Golden was going to be a big brother. And six months later...
"The best gift ever we have been surprised with... A GIRL!!!!!" she captioned a pic of the family of four, Cannon suited up like Santa and the newborn in her arms, on Dec. 25. "Powerful Queen Cannon came this week perfect timing for Christmas. So much more to share. All I can say is that Nick was my rock through the most intense yet empowering natural water birth. It was nothing but POWERFUL."
Then just a few weeks later, on the Jan. 11 episode of Fox Soul's Hollywood Unlocked with Jason Lee, model Jessica White said that she had miscarried Cannon's baby two weeks before Bell announced the previous June that she was pregnant with her second baby.
"She was aware that I just had a miscarriage two weeks prior to her news coming out because he told me that he told her," she alleged. "I was living at his house, and she knew that as well."
But White said she did not know that Bell was pregnant, too. "I found out on Instagram along with the rest of the world," she told Lee. (In his introduction to the episode, the host referred to Cannon as White's boyfriend of six years, though in hindsight it's unlikely Cannon would have categorized it that way.) Before this revelation, she explained, haters had come at her on social media, calling her a homewrecker because Cannon had seemingly left Bell and their son to be with White.
"We just had unconditional love for each other and we were friends," White said of their romance. "When you have a really close friendship with a person, you just know each other...He understood me and my craziness and I understood his, and we just meshed. We got along well. We were actually in a really good space before it ended."
However, it ended, she continued, in no small part because Cannon didn't publicly defend her when people attacked her online.
"He said he was going to right his wrongs and say something," White told Lee. "He has yet to do that. I think he's a man of his word and he eventually will in his own time. Stuff happens and I'm a very reasonable woman. For me, it was, you know how private I am, and you know how sensitive I am, and you know how emotional I am. You need to say something. I think he's a man of his word and he eventually will in his own time."
In an interview with Voyage LA published April 1, 2021, Bell didn't mention Cannon by name but talked about how having Golden inspired her to create her Mama Gang brand, that she had started teaching yoga before getting pregnant again, and that she had enrolled at Pepperdine University to pursue her doctorate in psychology. (She graduated this past May.)
"After a successful first term of school, God just so happened to bring us our baby during the Christmas break," she shared. "I birthed our daughter and began school about two weeks later."
Asked about the challenges she faced along the way to realizing these goals, Bell said, "The sacrifices I choose to make for family take a lot of strength but I have grown in my strength increase. Any mother knows the aspects of self-image that can become a struggle when giving all of yourself to your children—combine that with a desire to return to my career in modeling, TV, and a new brand… well the balance can be a struggle. But an uphill one I choose to maintain or find ease within."
Cannon never commented publicly on White's account of what happened between them, but they remained friendly enough that they were spotted together in June, grabbing dinner at Nobu in Malibu—about a week after he celebrated twin sons Zion and Zillionaire's first birthday at Disneyland with De La Rosa.
De La Rosa revealed April 11, 2021, that she was expecting twins with Cannon, writing on Instagram, "Our dearest sons - my miracle babies, Thank you for choosing me to be your Mommy. I know the Lord has destined me and prepared me for the gift of not one but two little angels. I pray that God give you both the strength to walk brave and boldly in your individual truth just like your Daddy. That God bless you and your brother and guide you into living out your full purpose.
"Your Dad & I will always be here for you both; in complete unison and support. No matter what this world may throw your way, know that forgiveness is key and what is for you - is for YOU! You both are already so loved and we can't wait to meet you both."
Zion Mixolydian Cannon and Zillion Heir Cannon arrived on June 14, 2021.
Six days later, Father's Day, Alyssa Scott posted to her Instagram Story a photo of her visibly pregnant self with a man cradling her belly, his face turned away but his signature turban and tattoos basically announcing "Look, it's Nick Cannon!"
"Celebrating you today," Scott captioned the shot. (Hawaii-based photographer Nick Andrew then shared more photos from the maternity shoot, one of which showed a bit more of the expectant dad's face—and he tagged @nickcannon along with Scott in the caption reading, "A new chapter.")
Back on May 6, 2021, Scott had captioned a maternity shot, "My son, I love you." But this was the first mention of who her baby's father was.
When that news hit the fan, De La Rosa deleted a bunch of Instagram posts, including her pregnancy announcement, but a shot of her cradling her newborn sons remained.
Scott and Cannon's son, Zen, was born June 23, 2021—but on Dec. 7, Cannon shared on his eponymous talk show that their 5-month-old had died of complications from a brain tumor. He revealed that the baby had undergone surgery but around Thanksgiving his condition took a turn for the worse.
"Alyssa was just the strongest woman I have ever seen," he said. "Never had an argument, never was angry. She was emotional when she needed to be but was always the best mom and continues to be the best mom possible. So I've got to say thank you to my entire family but specifically to Alyssa."
And it was out of respect for her, Zen and what they had gone (and were still going) through that he waited until Jan. 31 on his show to announce that Bre Tiesi was pregnant with his eighth child—and even that was hastened along when photos from their gender-reveal party surfaced over the weekend.
Scott broke her silence on that news the same day, writing on Instagram that it was "painful having my son be a part of conversations that aren't in alignment with his light and legacy. It isn't something I chose for him or myself." But she wanted her supporters to know, she added, "I am centered, I am at peace. I look at everyone's predicament with loving eyes. I will not judge. I will consciously decide what I will participate in. I am surrounded by love." (In June, she and Cannon launched the Zen's Light foundation to benefit pediatric health care.)
Meanwhile, on a Nov. 19, 2021, appearance on Dr. Oz, Cannon had said he was going to try to not impregnate someone, at least for awhile.
Knowing already that his eighth child was on the way, he said, "I don't know how I'll feel in five years. When people say, 'Are you going to have more kids,' that's a difficult question to ask, unless I did have something like a vasectomy, because I don't know if I'm going to find love again. I don't know how deep I'll go again. I don't know. You never understand what the universe is going to present to you."
When he revealed on The Nick Cannon Show, more than two months later, that he and Tiesi were expecting, he explained, "This is why I was like, 'Yo! I gotta get my life under control.' I felt like I was out of control. Celibacy did help me through the journey of getting one with myself, being able to deal with this, so now everybody knows why I was actually being celibate."
But his mindset, he added, was still to have "as many children as I can helpfully provide for."
Similar to what he told Howard Stern years prior, back when he was just a father of two, Cannon told Dr. Laura Berman on her Language of Love podcast in February that he still only had encounters that could produce a child if he felt ready to have a child with that person.
"I feel like every woman I have a child with are amazing mothers, and there was a thought process going into like, 'Man, she would be an amazing mother, she's desired children, I can't wait to see what type of mother she would be,'" he explained. "So, in saying that, I would say that they're all planned."
And he readily admitted that he wasn't marriage material. "I just don't feel like monogamy is healthy," Cannon said. "I feel like that gets into the space of selfishness and ownership. I'm the guy your mom warned you about, like, 'Stay away from that dude!'"
Tiesi said on E! News' Daily Pop in March that she and Cannon had been "on-and-off for years" since meeting a decade ago on Wild 'n Out—and even after marrying and divorcing football player Johnny Manziel during one of those "off" periods, she always came back for more.
"I just respect and love who he is so much as a person," the model and real estate agent said, "that when I thought about, 'Do I want my son to be this person? Look at your characteristics, look at your personality, look at how you treat people...' That's what is so much more important to me than anything. And he treats me amazing, so that's all I look at."
As for any scrutiny of their definition-resistant partnership, Tiesi said, "I think some people have their idea of conventional relationships and certain things. But we have a beautiful relationship. Everything is so supportive and positive."
Cannon also defended his family planning to Men's Health, telling the publication this past spring, "I've seen where people believe a traditional household works, and [yet] there's a lot of toxicity in that setting. It's not about what society deems is right. It's like, what makes it right for you? What brings your happiness? What allows you to have joy and how you define family? We all define family in so many different ways."
Tiesi gave birth to their son, Legendary Love Cannon, at home on June 28.
Meanwhile, De La Rosa announced June 3 on social media that she is pregnant with her third child—but she has not revealed who the father is. Since then, she has sung Cannons' praises as a dad, writing after their June 14 trip to Disneyland, "The world can say what they want but you go ABOVE AND BEYOND for us and for that we're forever grateful for you. It's not only my Birthing day but Yours too! We created magic @nickcannon and it shows."
On July 15, she posted pics from a trip to the Bahamas with Cannon, calling him her "newly engaged baby daddy," which prompted a guffaw from him. (He's been content to let a couple of cryptic posts from July teasing that he was engaged—which also easily could have been promotion for his "Eyes Closed" music video—remain unclarified.)
And then, on Aug. 24, Bell was revealed to be far enough along in her pregnancy to illustrate that, once again, Cannon had multiple irons in the fire this summer.
The next day, De La Rosa reposted an Instagram Reel from comedian Brian Moller that poked fun at how different generations react to Nick's baby news. In addition to some laughing and applause emoji, the expectant DJ wrote, "Lmaooo! Ayyeeee! Move over Kardashians, Gen 'C' taking over babyyyyy."
But, true to form, Cannon had more or less guaranteed a baby boom this year.
"The stork is on the way," Cannon said on the June 7 episode of the Lip Service podcast. "If you thought the numbers I put up in 2021 was…wait 'til 2022! Y'know, there was a lot of kids last year." (For the record, four Cannon children were born in 2021.)
He had managed to remain celibate for about a month and a half, he insisted, but after Zen died he didn't have the strength to say no when he was offered intimate companionship.
"I was supposed to make it to the top of the year but, obviously, I started going through some stuff," Cannon said. "I got depressed with the loss of my son. And the thing is, because everybody saw I was so down, everybody was like, 'Let me just give him a little vagina. That's gonna cure it all.'"
Looking forward to his eighth child's arrival at the time, Cannon said, "I feel like I'mma live this lifestyle for the rest of my life and I'm very comfortable with it. I probably have better platonic friendships with women."
He also told E! News in February, "I love, love all my children, like unconditional love—[and I ] have great respect and honor for all of their mothers, because I know I'm a lot to deal with."
(This story was originally published June 22, 2021, at 6 a.m. PT)