Rap Producer Scott Storch
When I hear a rap record I almost always the hear production first, and the rapping second. That may sound strange, but I am a producer myself, and came to love hip-hop via instrumentals. Yet the people involved in hip-hop production remain largely obscure to me. I've been doing my homework on the subject recently, but I know so little about the producers in the hip-hop business mainly due to the relatively low profile they tend to keep (with a few notable exceptions, of course). But this is changing.
Last month the New York Times published a piece on producer Scott Storch. Focusing mainly on Storch's superstar lifestyle, the article reads like numerous stories I've read about rappers in the mainstream media -- but this one is about a guy who works behind the scenes. Despite a somewhat condescending tone, it is an interesting profile. It takes a very special kind of creative talent to craft the perfect pop vessel for shaking asses on the dancefloor (or simply making kids feel cool), and I have a lot of respect for that. When it works properly (I must admit to being enamored with Storch's production on the Fat Joe anthem "Lean Back") the track feels very simple, but is in fact a masterpiece of subtlety with exactly the right drum sounds, the perfect fx whistles and glissandos for emphasis, minimal but super-effective melody -- everything in place and stated with perfect confidence. You can cry about it being unfair, but this is why he gets $90,000 to produce a track.
As for Storch working for Paris Hilton, why not? As he says, "If people are given the right circumstances and the right track and the right melody, it's about the conviction. It's not necessarily about being a God-given virtuoso." Production seems to be taking center stage more and more, and besides, Hilton's music career is no more or less a manufactured thing than that of many other stars today.