Cal Scruby and I have many things in common, it seems. We went to the same high school, we grew up on rap, and apparently both have an affinity for Chris Brown. So, I was interested to analyze his headlining show at Bogart’s, which was being repped by 101.1 WIZF, and is in support of his new album Long Story Short.
For those of you who don’t know Cal Scruby, he definitely is not mainstream rap. Yet. But, he’s been working behind the scenes for the majority of the last decade dropping several mix tapes and appearing at college music festivals. He grew up in the Lebanon area, went to Kings High School, matriculated to Ohio State where he began doing shows, opened separately for J. Cole and Machine Gun Kelley, and then found his way to LA where his burgeoning rap career began to take off. His first album House in the Hills was released in 2015 and featured singles with Chris Brown, Sevyn Streeter, and Trevor Jackson. He also had the privilege of being bashed on talk radio as a “rapping Justin Bieber.” The latter was the commentary playing on the sound system when Cal finally made his way to the stage to the hysteria of his fans.
Cal opened with ‘Michael Bay’ and it was hard to hear him over the screaming voices of everyone rapping the lyrics right along with him. A song later, Cal played the theme from ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ which melds well into his single ‘Right Now,’ and smartly asks “what if Fresh Prince never made it to the mansion, what if Black Chyna wasn’t dancing, what if Ray J. never had a camera?” While the hook is catchy, it’s also a statement on seizing opportunities, being in the right place at the right time, and how small things can turn into life-changing events.
Cal played a majority of his more recent songs, including fan favorites ‘Wasted,’ ‘Hold Up,’ and ‘Ain’t Sh*t Changed’ (the aforementioned Chris Brown collabo), as well as, threw in a couple of old mix tape favorites. He even recorded an Instagram Live post in the middle of the show to the adoration of his fans both live and on the web. The show featured many stereotypical rap concert characteristics, including bras and panties being thrown on the stage, money being “rained” on the audience, the smell of cannabis, and lyrics about sex, money, and alcohol. What was not stereotypical was Cal’s offer to meet up with any and all Kings High School alumnae after the show. I have no idea how many took him up on that offer, but unfortunately I did not. My Friday night was just beginning; I had other places to be, so instead I worked my way through the palpable humidity of hundreds of sweaty, intoxicated millennials and found the exit.