“After 24 winters in Ohio, I don’t think I can do the cold thing again,” says rapper Cal Scruby with a laugh.
Having relocated to Los Angeles nearly two years ago, the 26-year-old Cincinnati native indeed looks quite at home in the video for new single “Ain’t Shit Change” featuring Chris Brown. L.A.’s popular Venice Beach provides the scenic vibe for the video, whose basketball hustler concept pays homage to the 1992 box office hit White Men Can’t Jump starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. The “Ain’t Shit Change” video was directed by Andrew Sandler, who also helmed the video for another Brown guest appearance, the dance/pop track “Five More Hours” by Deorro.
A self-described basketball-loving gym rat (“I always wore shorts under my jeans so I could drop and play”), Scruby says he was a bit nervous about hitting the Venice courts for the shoot. “I hadn’t played in a while and Chris is good,” he explains.
But Scruby, a former point guard, notes the video more importantly shows viewers the person behind the artist. “When it comes to music, I don’t want to play a character or put on a face,” he declares. “I’m not serious all the time. I’m also goofy and lighthearted. This video is comfortable for me; it’s really who I am.”
Referencing the “crazy basketball shots” played out in the video, Brown adds of the experience, “Cal’s got that flow.”
The lyric video for “Ain’t Shit Change” has racked up more than 207,000 YouTube views. Performed against a melodic backdrop, the song’s lyrics embrace the meaning behind the proverb that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Inspiration for the track popped up as a recording session was winding down at 2 a.m. “The engineer and I played one last beat and came up with the hook,” recalls Scruby. “The next day we finished the record.”
“Ain’t Shit Change” is the third single from Scruby’s debut EP House in the Hills. Released by Riveting Entertainment, the EP bowed at No. 14 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart the week of Sept. 26, 2015. Along with earlier singles “Going Off” featuring Trevor Jackson and “Michael Bay,” the EP also includes guest Sevyn Streeter on the track “Submarine.”
Scruby started rapping in 2011 while a student at Ohio State University. His first release, “Best Foot Forward,” morphed into a weekly series of buzz-building a cappella videos called Scruby Snacks. Two mixtapes followed, 2012’s Boy Genius and 2013’s Scrubby. Prior to graduating from Ohio State in August 2014, Scruby became the first artist signed to a management deal with Riveting Entertainment. The L.A.-based firm, established by Andrew Listermann, has produced videos for Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Diddy and Brown, among others.
Up next for Scruby: a yet-untitled mixtape coming in January. While the rapper is keeping full details under wraps for now, he hints that the project further builds on his lyrics-first philosophy while adding more melodic tones. There’s also a second reteaming with Brown -- this time on the inspirational title track to the forthcoming documentary about Brown, Welcome to My Life. “We recorded it a couple of months ago with Chris on the hook,” says Scruby of the latter project. “It’s a song about reflection and moving forward.”