Hip-hop is very nearly 40 years old and yet, to a large number of people, it still has a stigma of being little more than programmed beats, stolen samples and rapping over the top. Grandmaster Flash, who still plays live at a pace many young bucks could do with taking note of, is to many an example of the acceptable face of the genre, miles away from the chart-bothering acts of today who have the media know-how but not so much the musical chops. However, there are some, mostly operating from behind the scenes, who have made an immeasurable musical contribution to the genre – chief amongst these is Scott Storch. Who?
Born in 1973 in New York, Scott Storch was born of somewhat musical stock – his mother, Joyce, was a singer signed to Cameo-Parkway, whilst his uncle, Jeremy, was in a band called The Vagrants, whose later morphed into the much more well-known Mountain. Scott’s own career wouldn’t take off meaningfully until 1992 when he joined The Roots, a hip-hop band who concentrated on live instrumentation and routes less travelled musically, exploring jazz and soul, whilst at the same time featuring the world’s most famous beat-boxer, Rahzel. As keyboardist, Scott found himself in huge demand in an industry which was flourishing and which was in huge need of anything that lent an act an original musical hook.
This demand led to Scott both using his keyboard skills alongside a raft of production work, notably, his collaboration with Dr. Dre for the song “Still D.R.E.” Storch’s most successful solo production hit was “Lean Back”, a 2004 single by Fat Joe. He became one of the top producers in the business, having worked on hits by 50 Cent, The Game, T.I., Chris Brown, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Dr. Dre, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Pink, Lil’ Kim. Still think you’d never recognise his keyboard refrains? Think again:
Though the riches of the entertainment industry ultimately led to Storch’s ever-rising star fading ignominiously, others have continued to use “real” musical instruments to bring added light and shade to the standard hip-hop model. Currently making waves in the field is Jonny Dee, a San Diego-based artist who is using his guitar skills to bring a Jimi Hendrix/psychedelic flavour to his sound, far more Haight-Ashbury than The Bronx. Have a listen: