|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2004-03-13
John Cena's a busy man. On Sunday, he'll step into the ring to face the 7-foot-tall, 500-pound Big Show for the WWE U.S. Championship at Wrestlemania XX. But his biggest challenge may lie even further down the road, as Cena prepares to enter the rap game. The rising WWE star has proven that he can move arenas with his mic skills as easily as he does with his in-ring skills, and his debut album is expected to arrive later this year. Through the power of his weekly appearances on the WWE's Smackdown, the self-proclaimed "Doctor of Thuganomics" has already tried out his rhymes on millions of ears, but is he ready to go toe-to-toe with hip-hop's big dogs? Who better than Method Man to find out? The hip-hop icon (and wrestling fan) sat down with Cena recently to talk about their shared loves: wrestling and hip-hop.
Method Man: When did you fall in love with hip-hop?
John Cena: In 1985, my dad bought me a CD player for Christmas. This is when CDs first came out. I wanted the boom box with the TV in it. I got the CD instead. I didn't even know what CDs were. I was rocking tapes like everybody else. One of the first CDs he ever got me was the Fat Boys' Crushin': "The Fat Boys are back/ And you know they can never be wack!" Right after that, everything just kind of fell into place. I wore that CD out, then everything else hit after that. I must have been 10.
Method Man: Are all your rhymes you say when you come out the ring written, or off the head?
Cena: A lot of stuff is off the top of the head, but because they let me go off the top of the head so much, sometimes I say things that make Vince [McMahon] go, "It's a little too raw for TV." Now I burnt my bridges too much, so I gotta run everything by everybody to make sure, but once in a while I'll try to slip my stuff in.
Method Man: You are officially a rapper, 'cause they hit us with that every day, all day. "Can we have a chart of the lyrics so we can know everything you're going to say? No, that's not acceptable!" Last year at Wrestlemania, you issued an open challenge for a rapper to come battle you, and no one answered the call. How surprising is that?
Cena: That was something I could understand. I've been doing this rap thing not for a while, only two or three months. I'm a small-time white kid trying to represent hip-hop. If a hip-hop artist comes up and beats me in a battle, who did they beat? A small-town white kid who ain't never been an MC, who ain't never done nothing. Now if an MC comes to battle and they get beat by a small-town white boy, that's MC suicide. So there wasn't a positive aspect for the rapper, nothing positive that the rapper could gain out of it. There is no exposure they can possibly have, so I can understand why it didn't pan out. We had a little fun with that anyway. We had cardboard cutouts, just poking fun at people. It's all fun. We keep it on wax. There's no worries ... nothing's going wrong.
Method Man: And plus, a lot of y'all rap dudes can't fight anyway, so all you'd have to do is just sit on it and be easy.
Cena: Nah, we had some fun instead. Hopefully, at the end of the year, or the years to come, you'll see some hip-hop people like Meth up on WWE!
Method Man: If you had a choice of rappers, what MC would you choose as your tag-team partner — present company excluded?
Cena: Man, Bone Crusher's a big dude, and he ain't never scared! I ain't forgetting about him. He's a big dude.
Method Man: And he don't look like he stinks. That's the biggest thing to me. Most fat dudes look like they funky. He don't look like he stink. He look like a rather clean brother.
Cena: I could ride with him, too. I'd be like, "All right. We got to travel, but you ain't gonna stink up the car. You're a big dude, so you're gonna hold it down." Bone Crusher, if you need me and you want to slam some bodies down, I ain't never scared!
Method Man How daunting will it be to make people believe you're a legitimate MC?
Cena: Well, the thing is, I'm doing an album. I'm rapping every week. If you watch wrestling, you now know the hip-hop culture is being represented with wrestling. For the longest time, the cultures have almost been parallel. They're very similar, but there's never been that joint, there's never been that bridge. I don't care if they recognize John as an MC or as a rapper. I want people to look at WWE and know that hip-hop is accepted in that circle.
Method Man: Who are some of the people that you're working with on your album?
Cena: I'm looking forward to working with my boy Freddie Fox. Maybe we can get some members of the Wu, maybe Meth, Red. Anybody over there from Def Jam, I'm feeling Joe Budden. Joey's one of my guys. Eminem, obviously I'm a fan of his. Pretty much my feel toward MCs is, if you really got heart, you got passion, let's get on and do something. I like doing stuff with people that's real.
Method Man: So, there's not a collaboration that's about to go down with 'NSYNC or Christina Aguilera?
Cena: I won't be doing that.