Chris Scholar is a Los Angeles-based, multi-talented creative from Richmond, VA. An independent recording artist, he also claims the titles of singer, rapper, writer, dancer, video director and editor.
At the age of 18, Scholar received his first taste of the music industry when Jermaine Dupri highlighted one of his music videos on his blog. After gaining some momentary notoriety, this same year Chris dropped out of college to pursue his music career full-time.
Troubled by the everyday struggles of many independent artist, his lack of financial resources caused him to pick up another skill set behind the lens. Teaching himself how to film, direct, and edit his own music videos. In 2016, Chris established a solid fan base with the release of his idiosyncratic visuals for ‘Moved To LA’ and ‘Abstract.’ This same year, he had his first national television performance as a featured artist on Revolt TV. His innate gift behind the camera landed him opportunities to direct visuals with artists such as Trippie Redd, Wiz Khalifa, Tank, Lil Xan, BJ The Chicago Kid, French Montana and more.
In 2019, Chris was introduced to one of the industry’s most influential monikers currently in hip-hop. American singer, songwriter, and record producer, Hitmaka. Alongside Hitmaka Chris co-wrote on 2 Chainz ‘Rule The World’ single featuring Ariana Grande and ‘Sorry Enough’ on Chris Brown’s latest album, Indigo.
“I travelled back and forth to Los Angeles for about a year before moving. I had developed some great relationships out there and saw the potential in opportunity.”
How did you come to connect/work with Jermaine Dupri?
“JD has always been a major inspiration of mine, producing and cultivating the careers of some of my favourite artists. He started this YouTube series called Living The Life which allowed people to get an inside look on his process. I used to tune into all of the episodes and the followers of the show became sort of like a community. After each episode some fans would make response videos. He would respond to the videos, and sometimes repost them on his personal blog. I saw one of the videos about an hour after he posted it up and knew if I was one of the first people to make a response video, he would most likely see it. I did exactly that and by the time I woke up the next morning my video had a ton of views and reposted it on his blog. He then reached out to me on twitter and the relationship built from there.”
What other connections or collaborations have represented turning points in your career?
“In 2016 I attended this writing session in Los Angeles. At the time, I didn’t have much experience in writing for other people. I had a catalogue of records, but all mainly written for myself. I was paired with songwriter Ryan Toby and producer Dem Jointz. We started the session and I was just happy to be in the room creating with some credible artists. We worked for about an hour and then out of nowhere Usher comes into the studio. Long story short we ended up doing an entire session with Usher. I remember clearly walking out the booth and Usher extending his hand out to shake mine, then he said, “you the truth.””
What inspired your move to Los Angeles, and what impact has this had on your career?
“I travelled back and forth to Los Angeles for about a year before moving. I had developed some great relationships out there and saw the potential in opportunity. I ended up making the move in 2016 and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made. From this point I was able to collaborate and build with a ton of dope creatives which in turn elevated my craft.”
What’s the story behind the video for ‘Northside’?
“‘Northside’ is a coming of age story about myself and a girl from the opposite side of the city. The visual depicts us first on separate sides of town. When I receive a phone call from her, we get thrown into this alternate reality. We are separated by a wall (this is symbolic – she is stuck on the Northside, while I am stuck on the Southside). She flies over the wall and comes to visit me at the Waffle House where I work. The visual incorporates lots of surreal imagery. It’s a love story that symbolically depicts growing pains, compromise and triumph.
“We filmed it gorilla style, capturing staple areas in Richmond. It was extremely important to bring out the essence of the city because it was the first video I’d filmed in my hometown in years. When I get in the editing chair (especially for my visuals), I always think of crazy ideas. That is where all the effects and sci-fi elements come in. It’s just me having fun and challenging myself to be great.”
“‘Northside’ is a coming of age story about myself and a girl from the opposite side of the city. […] It’s a love story that symbolically depicts growing pains, compromise and triumph.”
Who else did you work with on the video, and what did they bring to the project?
“This video was so amazing because everyone involved in the project is from Richmond. I reached out to my brother, Domico Phillips who is another young director from the city to collaborate on the co-direction. My fiancé, Bevin [Anderson] not only starred in the video but produced it alongside Kamaria Iman and Antwan Williams. My day 1 homies came out to support and it was overall a great feeling to film back in my hometown after being in L.A. for a few years. Everything feels so authentic and genuine because its home. We literally finessed around the city with our DSLR cameras and made a movie out of nothing.”
Are there any other creative pursuits that you’re looking to master?
“Movies! Being that I direct my own visuals as well as other artists, the big screen has always been an aspiration of mine. I can’t wait until I create my own film where I can merge everything in one massive project.”
Which artists are inspiring you right now?
“I catch inspiration from different artists at different times.To be honest I have been listening to a ton of female artists recently, the women have a major presence especially in the R&B space. (Joja Smith, Summer Walker, Nao.)”
What are you working on at the moment?
“Currently I am finishing out my upcoming (project, album, ep), which ever one you prefer to call it. All I know is that it is a full body of original music.It will be accompanied by a few more visuals, so I am excited to finish these up.”
Any plans to perform in the UK?
“I can’t wait to get out to the UK and perform. I have recently been getting acclimated to the music scene out there and feel like this is the year to really bridge the gap. There are no set dates as of yet, but it is a major goal of mine this year.”
What’s next for Chis Scholar?
“I have two more singles releasing in early March that I am hyped about which are a prequel to my full project. One of which has a feature from UK’s own Big Tobz. As I said before, collaboration is a major part of 2020, musically and culturally its necessary that we build that connection. Getting prepared to hit some stages in SXSW 2020 and go from there.”
‘Northside’ is out now.