The name Nick Cannon elicits many different memories for many different people. Some know him as Devon Miles in the coming-of-age marching band film Drumline. Some know him as the former host of ABC’s America’s Got Talent. And most know him as the creator of MTV’s Wild ‘N Out. Throughout all of his career endeavors, though, one thing has remained consistent: his desire to create.

The artist, activist, Howard student, father, poet, and comedian is devoting his talents to the music industry once again with his ongoing project Model Music.

The rapper remembers starting out in the music industry, with his 2003 track “Gigolo” featuring R. Kelly. “I was a kid, I was just happy to be rapping,” Cannon tells EW for the latest installment of The Upbeat video series (above), presented by Citi. “Now, I approach it as a CEO, a label executive, an entrepreneur.”

Cannon has a desire to uplift and support fresh faces in the music industry. The musician is credited for helping R&B stars like Kehlani and H.E.R jumpstart their careers, and through his artist management company, Ncredible Entertainment, Cannon says he hopes to continue to “bring new artists and established artists together and make great music.”

As for his own music, Cannon is continually influenced by those around him. His recent single “Motivation” was inspired by his great-grandmother, Corinne Cannon. The rapper wanted to show the world what his idea of true success looks like: A 98-year-old woman who can stand proud and tall and still speak wisdom with a gracious smile. “Being raised by a single mom, my grandmother being very influential,” he shares. “And then being a father of a 6-year-old little girl, all of that goes into my reverence for women.”

Cannon’s latest music project Model Music will be available in full this summer.

Learn more about Cannon’s musical influences in the video above.