Scott Storch is reclaiming his spot among hip-hop's greatest
© Maria Jose Govea
When it comes to blockbuster resumes, Scott Scorch’s career is like nobody other’s. Watch his lecture from Red Bull Music Festival Toronto below.
In the story of Scott Storch’s life thus far, 2006 was a definite climax. He was one of hip hop’s most commercially successful producers, with hits from the likes of Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Fat Joe, the Game, T.I., Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, Christina Aguilera, Dr. Dre, Nas and many others to his credit. He was collecting accolades, including ASCAP’s coveted Songwriter Of The Year Award. He was also collecting cheques—a lot of them.
But the higher the climb, the harder the fall, and 2006 was also the year things took a dark turn in Storch’s story: it was the year that his drug habit started to completely consume his life. By 2007, he had spent most of his fortune on cars, yachts and private jet trips. He was living a billionaire’s life as a millionaire, and while he doesn’t know the exact figure, he estimates that he spent somewhere in the range of $70 to $100 million in less than a year.
After watching his lecture at Red Bull’s Toronto Music Festival, it's clear that there's a new lease on life that has Scott Storch back where he belongs after almost losing it all—chasing success instead of the next party, and making magic with some of the music industry’s biggest stars.
“My girl helped me see the light,” Storch says of their relationship with entrepreneur Florence Mirsky (whom he affectionately calls “Flo”). “I was in self destruct mode and she pulled me out of that.” Having a strong team around him has been one of the most important pieces of his new and improved life, and it was Florence who inspired him to replace toxic relationships with healthier ones: “She made me realize all the unnecessary people that were bad influences in my life—which was pretty much everyone I surrounded myself with.”
Another healthy relationship has been the one Scott has forged with his manager Steve Lobel, the music industry super-exec who's worked with everyone from Bone Thugs N Harmony and Jam Master Jay to Three Six Mafia and Nipsey Hussle. Steve has been an amazing no-nonsense force in Scott’s career over the past few years—something Storch desperately needed after a period of complete, well, nonsense. Together they came up with a plan to bring Storch’s legendary musicality to a new generation: “(Lobel) showed me the importance of working with new talent and helping to plant these seeds,” Storch says of their shared vision. “And since then we’ve been watching all the artists we chose to work with, one by one, blow up.” Just as Storch was known for working with artists like 50 Cent and Chris Brown at critical points in their early careers, he’s been working with some of rap’s most exciting young acts over the past few years including A Boogie, Blac Youngsta and Trippie Redd.
While the current hip-hop landscape might be unrelatable and even intimidating for some industry veterans who came up in a different time, Storch welcomes the “new” era of rap with open arms. “I've been a pioneer over the years,” he says. “I've watched the evolution of music and of hip hop over the last 25 years. It's always changing so that's nothing new for me.” He’s also excited by the variety he sees in hip-hop these days, because he feels there was a time when “there was a lot of derivatives,” but that’s just not the case anymore: “Trippie is very distinct. Tekashi is very distinct. Drake of course has his thing. Everyone has their own thing, which is great.”
Storch has also had to tackle re-establishing himself in an industry that had changed a lot since the early 2000’s, and re-introduce himself to a generation who was still in diapers when he first topped the charts. “I can't take credit for the creativity,” Scott admits when I compliment his Instagram game. “My girl Florence showed me the potential of branding myself again through social media. She said it's going to happen through Instagram and it has.” Storch’s Instagram account now has over 1 million followers who are regularly treated to a behind the scenes look at his life including his studio sessions and unreleased music, and personal highlights including his relationship with his kids, which is stronger than ever after going through its own rebuilding phase. “Because of Instagram, now when I go out it’s not just people that are between the ages of 30 and 45 that come up to me for a picture,” Scott laughs. “It's like 13 year old kids who are like, ‘Oh my god; that's Scott Storch!’”
The guy who Timbaland once famously called a “piano man” also finds himself uniquely positioned to bring a level of musicality that is sometimes missing from modern hip-hop productions: “Music is in a place where it's become less sample-driven. I'm a good collaborator when it comes to that because what I do is a very distinct thing. I'm a melody and tone-centered guy. I supply that and I've always been that.” And instead of dogging the bedroom producer who favours a laptop over any more traditional instrument, Storch welcomes it. “It’s fun to collaborate with young producers who like to ‘draw’ the music instead of play it,” he observes. “You can do some really cool trap stuff with that. And then I come in and supply that melody.” He’s already collaborated with prolific producers like London On Da Track and Murda Beatz, and says he’s keen to work with others. OVO’s 40 and Vinylz are at the top of his wish list.
While his life 12 years ago was like something out of Scarface (as famously noted by Gucci Mane in his autobiography), a day for Scott now is fairly simple: he starts with coffee, and goes for a swim. “I clear my head in the pool and then I’m ready to go straight into the studio,” he says. “On my work days, I usually don’t like to run around before a session. I like to use my first mental energy for music.” His love for music never went away, even in his darkest days, but he’s had to work especially hard at it these last three years. Not the actual act of making music, but “getting in door, rebuilding relationships” and showing people who he previously let down that he’s responsible, reliable, and ready to work.
Lucky for all of us, putting in the work to achieve something you want is something Storch has never shied away from, and in 2018 he’s more motivated than ever to work his way to the top of the music industry once again. The desire to be remembered as one of “the greatest of all time,” is what motivates him now, instead of the over-the-top luxuries that at one time defined his life. He may have temporarily lost his way while building his legacy, but the Scott Storch of today has a firm grasp on who he is, and the achievements that nobody can take from him: “It got clouded by what I went through with drugs but you can’t get it twisted: I did bigger numbers than everybody else.”
And while he acknowledges his mistakes, he isn’t going to let a couple of dark chapters define his life story. “We all make mistakes in life,” he says simply. “We can't erase history; the only thing we can do is make a better future.”