By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
When Scott Storch was 8 years old, he was dizzied by a soccer cleat to the head. His mom did not take such injuries in stride. She had been apoplectic when Scott lost his baby teeth in a living-room dive five years earlier, leaving him with a Leon Spinks grin. "I was an overly worrisome mother," admits Joyce Yolanda Storch, who goes mainly by her middle name. "I was overbearing to a fault."
Mom banned Scotty from participating in sports. Instead, she enrolled him in piano classes at Candil Jacaranda Montessori in Plantation, about 15 minutes from their Sunrise home. An old jazz pianist named Jack Keller taught him. A singer herself, Yolanda stopped taking weekday gigs so she could drive Scott to the lessons and scraped together enough cash to buy him a baby grand.
The scrawny, creative kid wasn't much of an athlete anyway. But it turns out he was a virtuoso on the keys. By age 12, he was landing paid gigs. As an adult, he parlayed that ability into studio production, eventually becoming one of hip-hop's elite beatmakers. He laid backdrops for nearly every rap or R&B superstar of the past decade, including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, and 50 Cent.
At age 33, in 2006, his fee hit six figures per beat, which he could produce in 15 minutes. The money turned the Sunrise kid into a Palm Island Lothario. Hip-hop's blinged-out white boy lived in an expansive villa in the Miami Beach enclave, kept more than a dozen exotic vehicles — including a $1.7 million sports car — and docked a $20 million yacht.
So Yolanda, who raised Scott and his brother, Matthew, after she divorced their father in 1983, has reason to cling to the fact that she introduced Scott to the piano. It's the consolation prize of her life. "It's not that I want to toot my own horn, but I was always very supportive of his music," she says. "It's just too bad that everything went sour."
She perches gingerly on a bottomed-out wooden patio chair outside the modest two-bedroom red-brick home she shares with her 88-year-old father, Julius. The years have battered Yolanda's former starlet looks, but she's still a handsome woman, instantly identifiable as a Storch by her ghostly fair skin, blue eyes, and prominent jaw. Keeping large eyeglasses atop a nest of bleached hair, she wears pink slippers, gray sweatpants, and a T-shirt bearing a cartoon bird saying, "How about a Christmas goose?" A burned-out Doral Ultra Light 100 is wedged between her fingers.
Yolanda is, to put it one way, quirky. A Catholic convert of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, she's obsessed with all things Italian. Especially Al Pacino. She calls the abstract prospect of meeting the actor "the reason I get up in the morning."
For her and her gifted son, nothing has turned out the way it should have. She watched Scott blow his fortune in spectacular, infamous fashion, giving millions of dollars in diamonds and cars to his girlfriends, which included America's holy trinity of floozydom: Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian.
In the meantime, Yolanda, who cares full-time for her partially blind father, waited in this $81,000 house for her son to remember her. Instead, Scott descended into a cocaine binge that crashed his career, propelled him into massive financial litigation and bankruptcy, and sent him to rehab.
The neglect gnaws at her. She can't help but bring it up — to complain about the holes in her "36-year-old carpet" and her decaying patio furniture and medical expenses that eat right through her father's social security checks.
Public records also tell the story: In 2008, Capital One sued her for $5,700 owed on a credit card she uses for food and pharmacy bills in a case that's still being decided in Plantation court.
"Scott always told me he had plans to do certain things for the family," she says. "But then I guess things got bad before he got around to it. I read about all these other rappers' mothers — P. Diddy's mother, Kanye West's mother, Jay-Z's mother. Their sons all took care of them."
Then Yolanda worries, "If he reads this, he would be very angry at me. He's not going to ever give me anything."
So, exactly what would she like to see in print? She thinks and begins again: "I think that maybe you should make sure your mother has her retirement taken care of before you buy another $2 million necklace for some hotel heiress. You don't just have a miracle from God like that and then take all that money and throw it in the garbage pail."
Born in Long Island but raised in South Florida, Scott Storch has music in his blood. His great-great-grandfather was Lithuanian immigrant Meyer Machtenberg, a seminal Jewish composer in the early 1900s. In the '60s, Mom was a Queens-born pinup-caliber beauty who was signed to Philadelphia's Cameo-Parkway Records under the stage name Joyce Carol, and his father, Phil Storch, sang street-corner doo-wop in his native Bronx.
Phil's brother Jeremy was a founder of soul-rock band the Vagrants and a songwriter who once penned an Eddie Money hit. "There's always been music in Scott's life," says Jeremy, who bottomed out on drugs in the '70s, cleaned up his life, and became a rabbi. "He was literally surrounded by it."
Scott's brother, Matthew, who is older by 22 months, is his musical opposite: an alt-rocker who has supported his music by delivering pizzas.
So it was no surprise that Scott "took to music like a duck to water," as Yolanda puts it, playing Rod Stewart piano renditions at Davie's Nova Eisenhower Elementary talent shows, nailing John Travolta's role in a school production of Grease, and hitting the big stage with Matthew at the Sunrise Musical Theatre as the Storch Brothers. Scott caressed the ivories while his brother belted out glam-rock hits.
For Scott's first paying gig, he filled in for an adult piano player at a birthday party on the beach. He was 12. "He had a natural talent, and he practiced hard," Uncle Jeremy says. "He was very devoted to the piano."
Scott spent hours on the keyboard in the bedroom he shared with Matthew in their small Sunrise apartment. His parents had divorced when he was 10, and Yolanda made ends meet as a caregiver for the elderly. His father, Phil, lived in Miami with a new wife, his third.
Clearly, Scott did not dodge his father's genes. Dad was a gambler with a special affinity for the harness races at Pompano Park, according to Yolanda. He sifted through vehicles based on his luck: From Porsches to Lincolns to Jensen Healeys, he bought "30 cars in the 13 years we were married," she says.
Phil liked to bring Scott with him to the dealerships, and the fascination with flash and automobiles rubbed off. The kid spent his time in class drafting ornate sketches of Cadillacs. At 13, he wore a red bomber jacket, Porsche Carrera sunglasses, and a $75 Rolex knockoff — bar mitzvah gifts from Mom, all of which he quickly lost.
Says Yolanda: "Phil wasn't there for Scott through most of his childhood, and I think Scott really wanted to follow in his footsteps and impress him."
Phil eventually filed for bankruptcy twice, in 1997 and 2008. Among the jilted creditors were credit card companies and the Mercedes-Benz and Toyota financing wings. Reached at his home in Springfield, Missouri, Phil told New Times he was "not interested in talking to newspapers."
In 1988, Dad moved to Philadelphia. Scott, in his freshman year of high school, decided to go with him. Yolanda had a new boyfriend, and Scott wasn't looking for a stepfather. "I could have legally stopped him from going, but I didn't," Yolanda says, sounding regretful. "Much later, Scott told me: 'Ma, the only reason I left is that I hated your boyfriend.' "
"Scott felt like his mom had chosen a man over him," says Vanessa Bedillo, who had a son with Scott in Philadelphia. "That's something that really hurt him and probably still does."
One morning in the middle of the '88 school year at southeast Pennsylvania's Bensalem High, freshman Vanessa Bedillo watched a new boy pull his father's Porsche up to the brown-brick school building. The Florida kid dressed like a miniature Don Johnson and wore a preppy mop of reddish-brown hair over thin, bird-boned features. "All the girls were like, Who is this guy?" recalls Bedillo, who was the pretty, strait-laced daughter of strict Peruvian parents. "He seemed beyond his years."
Scott Storch was her first boyfriend. He spent the rest of that school year drawing her sketches of cars and gazing out the window, daydreaming about music. After school, he would play her Tears for Fears songs on his piano, which his mom had shipped from Florida.
"Scott was pretty much on his own," Bedillo says. His dad's parenting consisted mostly of a wad of bills left on the kitchen counter. Eventually, Phil Storch left his son altogether, moving to New York City.
Scott never returned to school his sophomore year. Bedillo ran into him on a city street and learned he was playing piano in an upscale Italian joint and working on the side in a local music studio. They rekindled their relationship. "I knew this guy was trouble," Bedillo says, "but I just couldn't stay away."
At 17, Bedillo became pregnant with Scott's baby. Her Catholic father, a GM autoworker, reacted as if there had been a death in the family.
Scott didn't show up for the birth of their son, named Steven. And he was "MIA after that," Vanessa says. "He was scared. I always wondered what might have been if he had parents like mine, who would have forced him to do the right thing."
Vanessa dropped out of high school after her junior year to care for the baby. An aspiring actress, she gave up that dream in exchange for a succession of dull jobs. It would be 12 years before she would see Scott again.
In 1992, a young music scout named Derek Jackson was at a North Philly block party when a strange group took the stage. They called themselves the Square Roots, and they played acoustic hip-hop. "You had this big, heavyset Afro-wearing kid on the drums, an old rapper, a really young rapper, and then this little white guy on the keyboard," Jackson describes, laughing. "But once they started to play, it was mesmerizing."
He arranged for the band to perform in front of his boss, David Geffen, and the record deal they signed with Geffen Records was Jackson's first major contract. It was also the commercial birth of the Roots, one of hip-hop's longest-lasting bands, now toiling nightly on Jimmy Fallon's late-night show.
The white boy on the keyboard was the group's sonic brain: Scott Storch, the human jukebox. During practice, bandmates liked to hurl song titles at him — anything in the Top 40 in the past 20 years — and watch his fingers spring to action. "Scott's mind is a computer," Jackson says. "His memory is his greatest gift."
Jackson, an all-business, frugal family man, became Storch's career-long manager. He says their relationship "falls somewhere between me being his father and me being his big brother."
Band members received $40 per diem in "food and weed money," says Dice Raw, then the group's teenaged rapper. But Storch drove a Jaguar XJ and lived with a girlfriend in a South Street apartment. "Scott was broke too," Dice explains, "but he would spend it the first day he got it."
"I don't want it to make me lazy," Storch would explain. "I want to get rid of it so I'm forced to work."
Then he would cop a new watch or a Range Rover. "Money never changed Scott," Dice says. "It just enhanced him."
Storch was never one for the road grind. So in 1995, when Jackson swung him a $10,000 advance from Ruffhouse Records to join a conceptual hip-hop/soul/pop trio called Madd Crop, he quit touring with the Roots.
The Madd Crop project never birthed an album, but it marked Storch's musical adolescence. Bandmate Chuck Treece remembers Storch as a "tyrant in the studio" who drew inspiration from his own eclectic musical tastes: Barry White, Average White Band, the Ohio Players, early Stevie Wonder. "And then he took that swing and put it into our music," Treece says. "Even when he was programming a beat on a [drum machine], this cat made everything swing. We all have our own musical cadence, and Scott was finding his."
In 1998, Philadelphia rapper Eve introduced 25-year-old Storch to Los Angeles gangsta-rap demigod Dr. Dre. Storch moved to Los Angeles to help produce tracks for Dre's Chronic 2001. The music Storch helmed — most memorably the addictive piano symphony behind the hit "Still D.R.E." — sealed his status as a top prospect in hip-hop production. After working with Dre, he partnered with beatmaker Timbaland to cowrite Justin Timberlake's smash "Cry Me a River."
Storch was a millionaire by age 26. But he already showed symptoms of an allergic distaste for bill payment. In 2001, the posh Le Montrose Suite Hotel in West Hollywood won a decision against him for nearly $3,000 in unpaid room bills after the producer moved to the Sofitel in Beverly Hills.
Following the megahits with Dre and Timbaland, Jackson persuaded Storch to hoard his golden touch for himself. In 2001, Storch returned to South Florida to set up shop with his own company, Tuff Jew Productions. Says Jackson: "By then, we knew he could be a superstar in his own right."
Yolanda Storch digs through her musty bedroom, which is clogged with hundreds of magazines featuring articles about Scott. She's looking for an audiocassette she made with him when he was 11.
Scott's grandfather shuffles, aided by a walker, into the living room, which is decorated with stuffed cats, Italian kitsch, clown puppets, and seated Barbie dolls. Photos of Scott and Matthew — wearing leisure suits for elementary school photo day, their thick reddish-brown hair gelled in identical fashion; sitting on Santa's lap; posing with their prom dates — cover every surface.
Julius is a lucid former Brooklyn storekeeper with a big, square head and skeptical eyebrows. He wears a polo shirt and boxy blue jeans. The octogenarian Jew gained an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop by mining mention of his grandson in music magazines at bookstores.
"Did you know that Scott won producer of the year in 2005? Did you?" he demands. "He beat out Dr. Dre, Timbaland, and Kanye West."
Yolanda remembers reading that her son returned to South Florida to spend more time with her. That's not the way things turned out. He'd send for her and his grandfather two or three times a year, shuttling them by limo to Café Avanti or Smith & Wollensky in Miami Beach, where he'd sit with a silk shirt undone to his abdomen, shades blocking his eyes, and a new girl by his side. "There were always bodyguards at the table, and they'd listen to the conversations, so he never liked to talk about too much besides the food," Yolanda recalls. "Ninety percent of the time, he was in a hurry to get done with dinner because he would say so-and-so was waiting for him at the studio."
Once his spending began to get out of control, she tried to persuade him to slow down a bit, to maybe buy a Burger King or two. He didn't listen. "Ma, this is my image. This is what's separating me from other producers," she remembers him replying. "They expect this from me."
Nowadays, Scott is in Los Angeles, attempting to make a comeback on Dr. Dre's upcoming album, Detox. Asked to handicap his grandson's shot at regaining fame, Julius doesn't hesitate: "I think his chances are very good. Perhaps if he stays away from those jerky broads, like Paris Hilton or Lindsay —"
"Daddy, don't say that!" Yolanda screams, suddenly emerging from the bedroom.
"Lindsay Lohan is a jerky broad!" he continues, undeterred. "She's a lesbian and — "
His daughter clasps a hand over his mouth. "Don't say that! Scott's going to get angry! He's going to disown us! Just say, 'I hope Scott gets his career together and becomes the world's top producer again.' "
She adds, "And that this time, he remembers his family."
Vanessa Bedillo must not have been reading the magazines. Still living in Philadelphia, she hadn't heard about her high school ex's success. So in 2004, when their 12-year-old son, Steven, began to wonder who his father was, she hired a private investigator to track him down. "The guy turned up two residences for him — one in Coral Gables and a mansion in Beverly Hills," she recalls. "And right then, I knew: The son of a bitch really made it."
They met at an Olive Garden in Miami. Scott acquainted himself with the sharp, witty kid who shared his light eyes, nervous tics, and taste for cheese manicotti.
After much consternation, Vanessa agreed to move to Miami so Scott could develop a relationship with his son. At the time, it seemed right. "We're 30 years old; we're not 18 anymore," she recalls saying. "It's time to do the right thing."
Every day held the same stoner's schedule for Derek Jackson's hit maker. He'd roll out of bed no earlier than 1:30 p.m. and throw on an expensive suit jacket and torn jeans. Within a couple of hours, he'd be on the freeway in the sort of sports car that tourists in bathing suits like to pose beside. By the time he pulled into the parking lot of the Miami Hit Factory — the plush, lime-painted sonic temple on NE 149th Street where James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Iggy Pop have all recorded hits — Scott Storch already would have mentally fine-tuned the little symphonies in his head.
Unlike most hip-hop producers, Storch eschewed music samples. It was always his own bejeweled fingers tapping on the keyboard while a tight crew of session musicians banged out his compositions seven days a week, 13 hours a day. It was a signature sound — synthy, staccato, and light on its feet, with melodies inspired by Middle Eastern and Indian music — that radio listeners could not escape between 2002 and 2005.
A pilgrimage to North Miami became mandatory for superstars looking for a hit. A few of Storch's most popular productions: Beyoncé's "Naughty Girl" in 2002, Terror Squad's "Lean Back" in 2003, 50 Cent's "Candy Shop" in 2004, and Chris Brown's "Run It" in 2005. All were top five hits on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Three of them occupied the number-one spot for months at a time. "It was like everything we touched was gold," boasts manager Jackson. "It was like... a fever."
By 2006, the producer commanded $100,000 per beat plus cowriter royalties and pumped out 80 commercial tracks a year. Rolling Stone estimated his net worth, including the value of his music catalog, to be $70 million.
But Storch displayed spending habits that could make Robin Leach hyperventilate. Though his paychecks now had six or seven digits instead of four, Storch still plowed through them the day Jackson signed them over.
Storch stocked his garage with at least 13 vehicles, including a $600,000 Mercedes SLR McLaren, a $500,000 Mercedes Maybach, and a $1.7 million black Bugatti Veyron — the most expensive car on the market.
A $3 million 34-carat yellow-diamond pinkie ring crowned his personal jewelry collection, which also included a diamond watch formerly owned by Michael Jackson. He paid $20 million for a 125-foot yacht. And the pièce de résistance: his 2006 purchase of an 18,000-square-foot white-columned Palm Island mansion, dubbed Villa Ferrari, for $10.5 million.
Storch shuffled through women who were equally expensive. He gave heiress Paris Hilton a Maybach and flew her to the French Riviera via private jet — at a cost of $275,000, according to XXL Magazine — and became full-fledged paparazzi prey by reportedly dating Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, rapper Lil' Kim, and porn star Heather Hunt.
Jackson now admits he was an "enabler" to his friend's reckless spending: "There were warning signs early that a crash and burn was in the future," but, Jackson reasoned, as long as Storch kept making hits, he could sustain his purchases.
Then Storch discovered the ego fertilizer known as cocaine. Soon he was snorting every day, Jackson says. "It started out light, and then it just escalated."
Jackson can cite the exact date when the addiction took control of Storch's life: July 28, 2006 — just more than three months after the birth of his second son, Jalen Scott Storch, born to Miami model Dalene Jennifer Daniel. That's the day the studio rat set off on the first extended vacation of his career, heading to the South of France. "When he came back," Jackson says, "his personality had started to succumb to the drug."
Jackson fumed as Storch left stars such as Janet Jackson sitting in the studio for several hours. Gossip flies fast in the music business, and before long, Storch was branded unreliable. Label honchos decided to spend their money elsewhere.
More than once, Storch's manager showed up at Villa Ferrari to try to coax him into getting clean. The inside of the mansion resembled a crack house, strewn with garbage and paraphernalia. Storch was surrounded by "takers" — fellow addicts, gold diggers, and bumbling handlers.
Constantly snorting bumps of coke, he now paired his jewelry with shirts stained from "blood that would just gush out of his nose at any given time." Storch seemed to Jackson like an animal, capable of viciousness but not reason: "Scott didn't give a fuck. You can't be humiliated while you're high. You're not conscious of the destruction you're wreaking on the lives of people around you. You feel nothing, you see nothing but the drug."
Jackson finally quit managing the producer in late 2007. He now talks about Storch like a bogus stock he bought too much of. "I didn't diversify," Jackson says. "I lived Scott day and night. I crashed and burned with him."
Like a washed-up Vegas lounge singer, Storch sold his services to the highest bidder. He produced tracks for girlfriend Hilton, teenybopper favorite Jessica Simpson, and wrestler Hulk Hogan's daughter Brooke. Perhaps his most bizarre foray into atrocious music came when Storch flew to Moscow to hire himself out for Russian rap and R&B duo Timati and Nox — a strung-out gig mercilessly preserved on YouTube.
But rubles would not be enough to lubricate Storch's Storch's personal finances, which were in the midst of a Ponzi-like implosion. Since 2005, he's been hit by 28 lawsuits in federal and county courts as his Tony Montana lifestyle was stripped from him piece by piece.
His vehicle collection went first. Repo men came for the Ferrari Scaglietti, the custom-made $160,000 HARD "Bones Bike" motorcycle, and even the 2007 Cadillac Escalade entourage transporter. In December 2008, Broward Sheriff's Office deputies arrested him and charged him with felony grand theft auto. He had kept a rented Bentley more than a year after it was due to be returned. The charge was eventually dropped, and Storch blamed Lil' Kim, saying he had leased the car for her.
East Coast Jewelry sued him for $170,000 in allegedly bounced bling checks. A jilted electronics company demanded $22,000 for Villa Ferrari's video surveillance system. Even the artist whose work adorned Storch's walls threw his beret into the ring: Parisian minimalist Kirk Hughey claimed in Miami-Dade court that Storch stiffed him $150,000 of a $300,000-plus bill for 23 paintings.
The civil judgments against Storch were staggering. He was ordered to pay almost $2.2 million in damages to JK Entertainment, a Delaware company that had loaned him $1 million, and $750,000 to Miami Beach movie producer Matt Sinnreich for breaking a $25,000 business contract. Storch was hit with a $509,000 judgment for failing to repay Los Angeles music manager David Menefield a $100,000 home loan. The creditors garnished his royalties from Sony BMG Music.
Meanwhile, Villa Ferrari went into foreclosure. He owed more than $500,000 in back property taxes on the house. And he pawned Tiffany, his beloved $20 million yacht, on eBay for $600,000.
Even as TMZ reporters circled buzzard-like around the corpse of Storch's fortune, the out-of-work producer was too blasted to care, regularly ignoring court dates.
Jackson visited him once in 2008. He recalls sitting in the passenger seat as Storch drove his Ferrari along I-95. The producer began hacking uncontrollably as blood spurted into his fist. Jackson shuddered: He's really on the cusp of death.
As 16-year-old Steven pulled their luggage out of the car, Vanessa Bedillo stared, teary-eyed and exhausted, at the cramped maroon couches that were their new home. She was having murder fantasies involving Scott Storch, sure, but she was angrier with herself: What the hell did I get us into? Once again, she had let herself be deceived by the same flashy white boy in the European sports car. And once again, he had burned her.
On May 15, 2008, she and Steven had been evicted from their Plantation apartment after Storch failed to pay the rent as they had agreed, according to a claim she filed in court. They were forced to sleep on couches in the two-bedroom home of Bedillo's parents, who had moved to South Florida.
Worse, Scott had fallen behind $5,000 on his honor-student son's tuition at Plantation's American Heritage Academy, and Mom had to beg school administrators to keep him enrolled. Vanessa, a saleswoman for a security-system company, couldn't afford to sustain the lifestyle Scott had promised them. "Steven's life was upside down," she says. "He [Scott] can be mean, but that was just plain old cold."
Steven wasn't the only son Scott had ditched in his cocaine haze. He had stopped making support payments for 8-month-old Jalen and allowed the baby's health insurance to run out. Asked about that lapse, he had told the Miami Herald he would "never, ever be a deadbeat dad," saying he had missed his obligations because he was in Saint-Tropez.
Scott continued to live on Palm Island, ignoring Vanessa's phone calls and dodging court officers attempting to hit him with contempt papers. A server named Joseph Torres told a judge that in one such attempt in September 2008, Storch had a handler use a black Mercedes S550 as a "blocking ram," plowing backward into Torres' legs to allow the producer to escape in his blue Rolls-Royce Phantom coupe. As Storch, accompanied by a blond in the passenger seat, drove past the beleaguered server, he peered out the window and muttered, "Good luck, asshole."
A judge was not amused. The next day, the Miami-Dade Police Department was issued a warrant for Storch's arrest. (Among the outlaw's aliases: Scotty, Storchavelli, Storchy.)
On March 5, 2009, Storch reported to the rehab clinic Recovery First on Stirling Road in Hollywood — his only alternative to a jail stint for contempt of court.
Derek Jackson remembers the phone call that told him Storch had finally hit rock bottom. "Listen, man, I messed up bad," the producer pleaded. "I apologize. Come fix this. Come save my life."
Over his wife's protests, Jackson flew to South Florida to meet Storch as he emerged from rehab in May 2009. The producer was doughy and listless from his two-month stint. Twenty-six days later, he declared bankruptcy.
According to papers he filed in court, his net worth stood at minus $58,000 — and that didn't factor in millions of dollars potentially owed due to lawsuit judgments. The bankruptcy was later dismissed after Storch failed to file financial records, and he remains on the hook for every penny of his debt.
SunTrust Bank repossessed the Palm Island mansion and eventually sold it to an energy-drink tycoon for $6.75 million. Storch spent nights in a spare bedroom at a friend's apartment, according to Details. All but a few of his most loyal friends were gone, along with those starlet exes he had once kept in diamonds. They had broken his heart. "Scott doesn't like to talk about his ex-girlfriends," his mother says. "He really loved them. He gave them so much, and they did him dirty."
Careerwise, Storch was staring at the very long end of a comeback. His productions hadn't made an appearance on the Billboard Top 10 in four years, and Storch's hibernation from music seemed to have put his famous ear into a coma. "He was just making noise," Jackson says. "He wasn't making music yet. He certainly wasn't making commercially viable music."
Storch was still adjusting to clean living. Twenty-hour powder-charged recording sessions were no longer a possibility. "We started him working three days in the studio and then three days off," Jackson says. "We went through a drill of learning how to get music back in his life."
Eventually, Jackson says, "something clicked." Storch began snagging second-tier clients, rappers such as Gucci Mane and Outkast's Big Boi, who has announced that his next album's single, titled "Shutter Bug," will be a Storch track. In February, Storch headed to Los Angeles to work with Dr. Dre on Detox, the megaproducer's Spruce Goose, in the works for nearly a decade. Jackson says Storch produced the album's first single.
Now 36, Storch is back where his career began. According to Vanessa Bedillo, he has made good on his child-support debt. He has even rekindled his relationship with son Steven, an 18-year-old aspiring producer who plans to study music at the Art Institute in downtown Miami. He spent spring break with Dad in Los Angeles and hopes to intern in Dre's studio. "He's become a really proud father," Vanessa says, adding she has forgiven Scott. "If that man loves anybody besides himself, it's Steven."
After 15 minutes spent digging around stacks of hip-hop magazines in her bedroom, Yolanda Storch finds what she's looking for. It's a 25-year-old audiotape. She sits next to her father on a couch, amid stuffed animals and naked Barbie dolls, and gingerly inserts the tape into an old portable player. She mumbles, "Scott always promised me he was going to put this on CD..."
The sounds of skillful piano-playing jump with surprising crispness from the portable player. Then Yolanda's voice bounds over the notes, covering Burt Bacharach. Mother and son recorded the tape when he was 11 years old. "You hear the little trills in the piano he's doing?" she asks. "Can you believe that an 11-year-old could play like that?"
Yolanda closes her eyes and begins dancing a little on the couch, tapping her toes on the carpet. Her happiest memories are simple musical ones with her sons: making this tape or driving with the boys in the car, all three of them belting out a Cyndi Lauper song on the radio. They are memories now so far removed from reality that they seem a bit cruel.
The 60-year-old Yolanda begins crooning to Scott's canned piano-playing, drowning out her younger self. Next to her, the nearly blind Julius silently cranes his neck backward like a dog trying to find a scent. "For good times and for bad times, I'll be on your side forever more," she warbles. "That's what friends are for..."
After the song finishes, she presses the stop button. She and Scott recorded more songs on the cassette, but she doesn't want to play them. She can't bear to risk damaging the tape.
Editor's note: New Times reporter Gus Garcia-Roberts flew to Los Angeles to interview Scott Storch, but the meeting was canceled when New Times refused to excise references to his mother.
The night of the thwarted interview, Yolanda Storch says, Scott called her in a rage. He accused her of trying to revive her cobwebbed singing prospects. "I told you never to talk to the press," he seethed. "You're going to ruin my career, and you're thinking only about furthering your own."
"You've made me sick to my stomach," she answered. "I won't be able to eat my dinner."
Scott shot back, "I won't be able to eat my dinner until the article comes out."