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 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. "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 cancelled when this publication 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 kvetched. "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."