Drake started his music career after starring on popular Canadian TV show “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”
Chance the Rapper recorded his first mixtape during a 10-day suspension while he was in high school.
Ohio State 2014 alumnus, Cal Scruby, recorded his first project, “Best Foot Forward,” in the Whisper Room on the third floor of the Science and Engineering Library — now called the 18th Avenue Library — while he was a student studying new media and information technology.
“It’s like a phone booth sized recording area where the walls are all insulated professionally,” Scruby said. “I just recorded and mixed my own stuff. That whole process probably took (about) two weeks.”
The 25-year-old from Lebanon, Ohio, said he first delved into hip-hop at the age of 9 when he made a mix out of an old burned CD. This then spun into a hobby, and with some encouragement from friends, Scruby took the rap scene more seriously. Though he had hopes of a rap career, Scruby’s dream of breaking into the music industry didn’t solidify until his contract with Riveting Management.
“I never wanted to be a rapper growing up — I never really pictured myself (rapping professionally) honestly until this year. Even when I was putting out stuff, I was hoping things would start to pop, but until I started working with Riveting, it never seemed so tangible,” he said.
When Scruby moved to Los Angeles this past September, he signed with Riveting Management as its first and only client. Riveting Management is a division of the production company Riveting Entertainment. The company represents 12 directors, including Wilmer Valderrama and Chris Brown, and produces music videos for the likes of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Mary J. Blige, said its founder and CEO, Andrew Listermann.
Listermann and Scruby met in Cincinnati after one of Scruby’s shows. The charisma and confidence of the unsigned rapper led Listermann to investigate further into Scruby’s work later that night after Scruby’s concert.
“For some reason, something about his charisma grabbed my attention. Cal had a confidence that just stuck out for a Cincinnati white rapper,” Listermann said. “When I got home that night in my hotel room, I just Googled him, thinking, ‘Let me just see what this kid’s about,’ and I found out he had a show with about 4,000 people that night in Town Square, which is really big for an unsigned artist. I thought there was a lot of potential there.”
Scruby continued to make waves in the underground music scene with his sophomore mixtape “Boy Genius,” which he recorded with Columbus producer Alexander Dreamer. The duo created the nine-track tape in five days and released it in September 2012.
Dreamer, a student studying audio production at the Columbus music industry program Groove U, said working with Scruby was not only inspirational, but also a great learning experience.
“It was very inspirational within our local music scene — because it’s very rare you find someone as talented as (Scruby),” he said. “He is very particular and very specific about what he wants to do. I got the experience to work with a great talent and learned from him as an artist myself.”
Scruby said he thinks he falls closer to goofy and awkward than hip, but his strong writing skills made up for it.
“That’s everything I take pride in,” Scruby said. “The other part of rap is being cool, which doesn’t come naturally to me, and the writing does, so that’s what I focus on and care about.”
Rafael Huezo, a 2012 OSU alumnus and friend of Scruby’s, said the artist’s proficiency sets him apart from other rappers and suggested he is cooler than he gives himself credit for.
“He’s someone pretty intelligent as a person, and he’s got a little bit more swagger than (he) did before, and so the concoction of swagger and intellect is definitely going to catapult him into the main stage,” he said.
The rapper said he does not feel the need to try to be cool because it is better to be true to his character than create a false public image, which is something he said he will never do. As a result, he chose to stick with his real name — Cal Scruby — rather than create a stage name.
“People are trying to poke holes in your story wherever you are, so I don’t really want to have skeletons in my closet. If you want to pull up my prom photos, you can do that. I’m never going to play a character or put on a front — I would rather just be honest and truthful, and you can make fun of me for who I am but not who I’m pretending to be,” Scruby said.
Listermann said the motivation and hunger of the Ohio native puts him in a good place at the moment.
“Whether it’s new artists or veterans, you like to see that motivation and crave to inspire. His fan base is growing significantly every month. I think since we’ve met, it’s tripled just based on the content we’ve put out. We’re in a good position,” he said.
A-listers like Chris Brown also see potential in Scruby, and the two are friendly over Twitter as well.
“When I introduced Cal to Chris, (Chris) thought he was great,” Listermann said. “‘I’d love to direct videos for Cal,’ and he ended up tweeting randomly one day the link to Cal’s SoundCloud page.”
Huezo said he doesn’t see Scruby as just a rapper because of his cleverness as a lyricist.
“He just spits knowledge,” Huezo said. “It’s not just ignorant rap, it’s actually content if you listen to what he’s saying. It’s enlightening almost.”
Listermann also said directors like Valderrama and Larenz Tate enjoy Scruby’s music and see raw talent in him. He also hinted that big projects are gravitating toward Scruby.
“We’re in the studio this week with Eric Bellinger making a record. We got him in the studio with really big producers out here (in L.A.) in the next week or two, so he has a lot of new music coming out. So, for a new artist, that’s a really good thing,” Listermann said.
Even though his career is beginning to pick up momentum, Scruby said he is still trying to find his sound as a new artist. However, one thing that remains the same is his pride to represent OSU.
“At Ohio State, there is so much pride in the school,” he said. “Everyone is for the same thing, especially on gamedays, so it is like a big family. What better school to represent than a school as big as Ohio State?”