PRODUCER MIXTAPE: The best of Scott Storch (The Roots, Dr. Dre, Terror Squad, Big Boi, and more)
by Aaron Zorgel
December 5, 2012
Scott Storch’s career has unfolded like a prototypical VH1 Behind The Music episode. The man responsible for countless modern hip-hop and R&B classics has spent the last decade plagued by addiction, personal strife, and a life of excess spiraling out of control. It’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who has blown millions of dollars up his nose, especially when it’s nearly impossible to find a picture of him where he’s not wearing ridiculous oversize sunglasses (see above). Despite his personal and professional struggles, Scott Storch has an undeniably strong catalogue to fall back on.
Splitting his formative years between Cherry Hill Township, New Jersey and Coral Springs, Florida, Scott Storch took an early musical influence from both his mother, who was a professional vocalist, and his uncle, who was a songwriter and an organist for 1960s soul-rock group The Vagrants. This early encouragement allowed Storch to flourish as a mulch-instrumentalist, spending his late teenage years touring and recording as an early member of The Roots. He also co-produced selected tracks by The Roots, as a member of their production collective The Grand Negaz. Storch quickly discovered that he hated touring, so after performing and producing on the first three Roots records, he chose to focus on the production side of the music industry exclusively.
Storch found an ally in Dr. Dre after they were introduced by Philadelphia rapper Eve, a mutual friend. As his first project, he was given the opportunity to co-produce “Still D.R.E.,” a song that simultaneously reestablished Dre’s domination in the hip-hop world, and introduced a mainstream audience to Scott Storch’s ability to craft a memorable hook. With Dre’s co-sign under his belt, Storch founded Tough Jew Productions, and began fielding requests from the biggest artists in hip-hop and R&B. Some of the beats Storch produced would go on to become some of the biggest hits of the era, including “Lean Back” by Fat Joe and the Terror Squad, “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent, and “Baby Boy” by Beyoncé.
Storch went through a much publicized falling out with Timbaland, after he alleged that his production work on Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” went uncredited. Timbaland lashed out at Storch lyrically on his song “Give It To Me”: “I’m a real producer and you just a piano man / Your songs don’t top the charts, I heard ’em, I’m not a fa-an-an.” Storch responded on “Built Like That”: “Your boy Danja got to hate you with a passion, man / He makes the hits while you taking all the credit, damn! / I know the feeling, I’m with ya / Won’t you tell them how I made that shit? Cry me a river.” Clearly, Scott Storch has ruffled a few feathers in the industry: Christina Aguilera even titled one of her songs “F.U.S.S. Interlude,” based on Storch making outrageous travel demands on behalf of his entourage while producing tracks for her 2002 album Stripped.
At this point, Storch’s beats were fetching $100,000 each, and an excessively lavish lifestyle began to take hold of the hitmaker’s personal life. He gained a reputation for owning an excessive amount of luxury cars, sporting flashy jewelery, and for having socialites like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian on his arm. As Storch’s battle with cocaine heightened, he developed an invincibility complex: he believed that he could make successful hits for girlfriends Paris Hilton and Brooke Hogan. Both of these projects tanked, and as Storch’s credibility went down the toilet, so did his finances. After losing his entire $70 million fortune to partying, Scott Storch checked into rehab and filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
Thankfully, the producer admits that he didn’t make “one good bit of music when [he] was high.” With his darkest days behind him, Scott Storch is trying to recapture the magic touch he had early in his career. It’s unclear whether Storch will ever fully recover professionally, but it’s clear that he’s not ready to fall off. There’s a glimmer of hope in Big Boi’s 2010 hit “Shutterbug,” one of the most inventive hip-hop beats of the past five years.