Kenneth Johnson / Lantern photographer
Five months ago, Calvin Scruby released his first mixtape. Monday, he opened for J. Cole.
The Ohio Union Activities Board picked Scruby to replace Big K.R.I.T. and open for J. Cole at the BuckeyeThon Benefit Concert in the Ohio Union’s Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom.
Scruby, a rapper and fourth-year in engineering, landed the gig because Big K.R.I.T., canceled last minute. He got the invitation when he was in Cincinnati preparing for a show he had booked for Monday with a different group.
Scruby’s management, LandSea Media, received an email at about 3 p.m. Sunday asking him to open for J. Cole. They were given two hours to decide. No more than 24 hours before the show, Scruby changed his plans and headed back to Columbus.
“Basically, it kind of fell in our lap,” said Paul Erlandson, co-founder and partner of LandSea Media. “Calvin was supposed to do a show in (Cincinnati) at Play, opening up for Fly.Union and a couple other people. Big K.R.I.T. was supposed to open for J. Cole and apparently he dropped out, so we got a call.”
Scruby’s response to OUAB, who asked him to fill a 45-minute set, was, “Yes please,” Scruby said.
“We got the invitation for the show (Sunday), so we literally put the show set together like in an hour before the show,” Scruby said. “We didn’t get a chance to rehearse or think about it.”
The concert was one of the biggest of Scruby’s early career.
“This is bigger than any shows I’ll do for the next three or four months, at least,” Scruby said. “It doesn’t get much bigger than J. Cole.”
The stage was set high off the ground and was the biggest Scruby has stepped foot on, but he said it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
“This stage, it seems like it would be really intimidating, but I’m just more excited,” Scruby said. “I’m actually more comfortable up and away from people rather than being down with them.”
About 2,000 people attended the concert, many of whom had never seen or heard of Scruby.
“It was the first time I’ve ever seen Calvin,” said Kent Fagan, a second-year in communication. “He was great and his lyrics were phenomenal. He was really getting the crowd going wild, which I thought was awesome.”
Some attendees said they weren’t excited when they realized Scruby was the opener.
“I just didn’t expect that much out of him,” said Greg Jentgen, a second-year in exploration. “I thought, if you take any average kid and say, ‘OK, if you try to rap, you could be as good as him.’ Then I saw him and I was like, he’s on another level. I think he can be big. I really do.”
Scruby’s set included his most popular songs. Scruby said his favorite moment on stage was when he sang a few verses a capella. He said it was really cool seeing people react to the words in his verses.
Former OSU basketball player Jared Sullinger and former OSU football player DeVier Posey joined Scruby on stage for some of his set.
Whether Scruby gained respect from the audience or not, he did gain their attention.
“I picked up like 83 Twitter followers while I was on stage,” Scruby said.
Erlandson said he hopes this show brings Scruby even more publicity.
“Hopefully he’ll bring on a lot more fans,” Erlandson said. “It’ll legitimize him a little more, opening up for a big name like Cole.”
Scruby has big plans for the future.
“We’re actually going to do a summer EP called ‘The Tour,’ and that’s going to be a bunch of videos that we’re going to shoot all over the country,” Scruby said. “Then we’re going to come out with a mixtape at the beginning of the school year next year.”
Scruby’s fame has grown exponentially in a short amount of time and he said that’s still a surprise to him.
“It hasn’t sunk in,” Scruby said. “To think that five months ago I was releasing a mixtape, and then five months later, you’re on a stage like that opening for a bunch of your friends and your peers – it won’t sink in for a while.”