The Return of Scott Storch: Superproducer Talks Making Peace with Dr. Dre & Working With Big Boi, Lil Wayne & More
For rap fans, the rise and fall of Scott Storch is uncomfortable to witness. The Miami-based producer, who once made hits with Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Beyonce, and many other A-list artists, suffered from a cocaine addiction that peaked in the mid-2000s. The habit caused Storch to spend recklessly and burning through a $70 million fortune that lead to an inevitable bankruptcy.
When Billboard spoke to Storch in 2014, he was preparing for a modest comeback, admitting "a lot of doors were closed to me" during his journey. “You've got to get in where you fit in," he said. "Even knowing you was once wearing the f--king crown, you still got to go back in the trenches. You got to bite your lip, deflate your ego and fight."
In 2017, Storch is taking his own advice by staying clear-headed and focused on getting records on the charts again. It starts with his business ventures: Storch Labs, his foray into the marijuana industry, and his girlfriend Florence’s Koko Nuggz, a collection of weed strain-inspired gourmet chocolates, have both revamped his public image as a chilled-out hit-maker who still has another run left in him.
In recent memory, Storch has landed on projects by DJ Khaled (“Everytime We Come Around”), Rick Ross (“Supreme,” “Sorry”), Snoop Dogg (“Happy Birthday Pt. 2”), and The Game (“All Eyez”). His Instagram is a sneak peek into his studio sessions, and he confirms to Billboard that he has worked with Chris Brown (“Enemy,” “All In”), French Montana (“Stop It” featuring T.I.), Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (New Waves album), Nick Grant, Stevie Stone, and many other fresh faces.
Earlier this month, Storch was in New York City for a studio session with Angel Lopez, a producer signed to Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group, to work on new material at Quad Studios. Billboard met with Storch to discuss his contributions to Big Boi’s “Order of Operations” record -- which was previewed at his Boomiverse listening -- and get the scoop on his latest collaborations.
When you last spoke with Billboard in 2014, Pusha T was working with you for his King Push album. You were in a different headspace.
I hadn't quite found myself back then. That was a year before I quit doing drugs. I’m two years sober now. It just obviously bounced back to what it was. All the time, as drug addicts, we proclaim that we’re going to do this and do that or whatever. It’s not as solid as when you’re sober. You’re on, you’re making your music, taking it seriously, living up to all the things that you say you’re going to do and you set out to do.
You once talked about putting out an EDM EP. Is that something you’re still working on?
No, it kind of came and went. I’ve adapted to different production techniques since then. I had to explore what’s out there in the world because I’ve been doing the same thing for so long, but the EDM thing, I just feel like I don’t want to be on the road DJing. I want to be in the studio where I belong. I’m actually starting to work on an album. Even some of the stuff I’ve learned while making EDM is helpful to me because I’m understanding all different facets of music. The synths, my original run in this game. From trap music, EDM music to everything in between. It is all hybrids of all that stuff.
What sparks your creativity now?
Sonics are important to me, expanding my sound library, working with effects and doing different things to make the same music that I would physically play on the keyboard. It just sounds that much richer and better because of the processing that everything goes through now.
What do you think about some of these current hip-hop trends like rappers aren’t really rapping anymore but singing, and the term “mumble rap"?
You know what? I’m never going to be the producer who talks s--t about how records were better than this and that. 'Cause there’s always going to be some cool s--t, and there’s always going to be some garbage. Unfortunately, a lot of garbage is easier to access these days because it’s a free-for-all. And sometimes people latch onto garbage. It is what it is. There’s still great music out there. There’s always going to be pioneers. I think music is in a cool place, and I think music is ready for more music in music.
What do you think has changed in the music business over the years as a producer?
People don’t go to the record store anymore. It’s crazy. The culture used to be so much stronger. People would go and support you, and go pick up the album. Not just for the music, but for the liner notes, for the artwork, just for the whole thing and to have it, and be able to say, "I have this album." It’s just changed a little bit.
I want to break down some of your recent work. You did a track with The Game called “All Eyez” with Jeremih. How’d that come together?
It was a cool record. Great hook, great track, great everything. I think the radio is thirsty for a good Game record that radio can sink its teeth into. He’s always keeping it street, but sometimes you gotta give him that hit. I gave him many others -- "Let’s Ride," "Westside Story." I have a long history with Game since day one.
When you link up with him in the studio, what goes down?
We just vibe. One of the greatest things that has happened to me in my newest era of my career and my life is I made peace with Dr. Dre. And he and I are cool. He and Quincy Jones are my idols. It’s a blessing. I’m doing stuff with Timbaland. I’m in these rooms again, and it's serious. It’s one thing to talk about it, but look at my Instagram. You see I’m in there on the daily. I’m inspired. I smoke a s--tload of weed. I don’t drink or anything. I’m not into that. No more drugs, just straight herbs. I got a lady in my life and my children. It’s just a beautiful life and I’m very lucky. I live a great life.
How did you make peace with Dre?
Me and Dr. Dre didn’t speak for a while because I was going through my problems. My manager [Steve Lobel] had given me his number. I called him. We met up. We took a picture, went viral. We reminisced. We talked about working in the future. We went to a session once and worked a little bit. That was really it, and we stayed in touch to this day. Nothing but great vibes.
You have a song on Big Boi’s new album. You made this and another one with him?
We definitely got two bangers. Real soulful. Every time I hit it with Big Boi, we always have good love. I was a huge fan of the “Shutterbugg” record he did. Big Boi [is a] talented artist. God bless him. We got two smokers coming out. I hope it is a well-received album.
Take me back to those studio sessions. It was last year?
In Windmark [Recording], Santa Monica. It was cool. It’s crazy that he always shows love. And that same love leads to other love because I ended up becoming tight again with the Epic Records family. I know L.A. Reid just had a departure from there, but him and everybody else, they have quite a few artists that we’ve been working on [like] this group, Saving Forever, and a whole bunch of stuff. From Big Boi’s invitation, I was able to do a whole bunch of more work over there.
We created the stuff right there in the studio. That’s really how it’s been lately. You can play them fire that you made two weeks ago or a month ago or six months ago and it’s cool and people will react to it. But when you’re in there, their part of creating it, and the vibe is there, it enables you to reach a little further because there might be a section where they want to change it in a specific way and have an idea that got sparked in there. You can do that and it's right there and it is done.
Do you have a comment on the allegations against L.A.?
That’s corporate stuff. I wouldn’t know first thing what’s going on there politically. I know L.A. is quite a gentleman, an incredible guy and a music mogul for so many decades. I’m sure he’s got something interesting up his sleeve. His next move might be sitting on a yacht somewhere in Saint-Tropez. I don’t know, he’s chilling, wherever he goes. He’s done enough.
Chris Brown posted a tracklist for Heartbreak on a Full Moon. You worked with him on two tracks, “Enemy” and “All In.” When did those tracks happen?
My man Mario and my buddy Milton wrote the top line and I did the tracks. My man Diego for the song "Enemy." it’s a super epic song. I cut it in Florida when we did the original demo. It just felt so right for Chris Brown -- lyrically, everything. Something special about that record. There’s a lot of songs on the album, but that one is going to get some attention because it’s a real epic, unexpected record for the type of stuff he’s been doing lately. Really huge world record.
“All In” is a record that I did with my man DB Bantino, the guy who sang the hook on the Zoey Dollaz “Bad Tings” record. He’s a dope writer, really cool guy. He penned that with me. That’s a really cool, fun record. That’s some street [sounding], partying [vibe], cool record.
What about Wayne? You and him took a picture together in the studio last year.
[Wayne and I] might have some stuff coming out. There’s some really big [songs] that I can’t talk about. I’m talking about [a song with] one of the biggest rappers in New York. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, but I got some stuff coming.
DJ Khaled has an album coming out called Grateful. You worked with him before on I Changed A Lot.
I was just in the studio with him. I’m so happy for him. He’s also a member of the family for many moons. Being a big part of life of the Terror Squad clique, Khaled is also part of that family. It’s cool watching everybody evolve.
You hope to get a song on Grateful?
It’d be cool. I was working in the studio [and] he came by. I was working with Fat Joe on a record with Remy Ma that’s going to be pretty crazy.
You and YG were working too.
Me and Mustard made a record for him. Like I said, I got a lot of tricks up my sleeve. I’m talking about a lot. Hard work, man. I forgot about that for a minute because I had too much money, too many women, too much drugs, and I forgot about the love of the music. Now, I’m remembering it and I’m hungry again -- and I’m loving it.
You’ve talked about wanting to do something with Wiz Khalifa someday. Is that still a dream of yours?
Definitely. You know what? It’s interesting that you should say that because there’s a project I’m working on that there’s a possibility that he might get involved. We’ll see how it goes. I just want to get into the studio with Rihanna this time.
What else do you have going on for the rest of the year? I feel like there’s a Scott Storch comeback brewing.
It’s called not being lazy and not resting on your laurels. I became one with the music again. Music has changed, but there will always be a demand for amazing music. I feel like I have a lot to offer and the future’s bright.