Even if you are unfamiliar with the parable of Scott Storch, the dean of hip-hop beats featuring squiggly little earwormy keyboards, if you were alive in the 2000s and listened to the radio you are already intimately familiar with his work. You can hear the plinks of the classically trained pianist in Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.,” as well as on Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.” He produced both “Lean Back” and “Make It Rain” for Fat Joe, “Candy Shop” for 50 Cent, and “Me, Myself, and I” for Beyoncé — alone enough to make him one of the premier hitmakers of the decade — and made bajillions of dollars cranking out beats for pop stars like Christian Aguilera, Ricky Martin, and Mariah Carey. But, like many a musician caught up in the cycle of fame, Scott Storch started doing so much cocaine that he stopped being able to tell the difference between good ideas and very, very bad ones. This, in turn, led to him doing things like making an entire album with Hulk Hogan's daughter and also a music video in which he rapped on a moving speedboat.
It perhaps goes without saying that the 2000s ended poorly for Storch. By 2010, he was an industry pariah, broke and fresh out of rehab, trying to put the pieces of his once-bulletproof career back together. Despite producing the occasional gem, Storch has spent the 2010s as a member of of the hip-hop production D-List.
But there is a place where Scott Storch thrives, and that place is Instagram. Storch — who at 44 looks and dresses exactly like the heir of some sketchy Russian oil fortune — uses the service primarily for a) posting pictures of himself smoking weed while wearing aviator sunglasses, and b) posting videos of himself playing the shit out of the piano while wearing aviator sunglasses. The weed stuff is kind of boring because anyone can smoke weed, but few can play the piano with the virtuosic skill and unbridled passion that Storch possesses, and only Scott Storch himself can display that virtuosic skill and unbridled passion while wearing aviator sunglasses at all times. His Instagram piano habits briefly made waves in 2013, when he posted a video of himself making a beat while getting a haircut and smoking a cigarette, but in the past few months Storch has come into his own as an Instagram piano guy.
Here he is performing with the rapper Berner, playing a beat live onstage while wearing a tracksuit that’s at least two sizes too large:
And here he is in the studio, playing a yacht rock keyboard line as some dude sings softly into a phone:
Now another, in which he plays the piano while smoking a blunt and dancing like an alien wearing human skin:
And a third, which trumps the previous video because not only does it feature Storch simultaneously playing keys and smoking, there's also a man next to him dancing while cradling a pomeranian.
Storch's Instagram is the gift that keeps on giving. To add a little spice to your life, watch him play A Tribe Called Quest's “Electric Relaxation” on a grand piano as the middle-aged character actor Michael Rapaport inexplicably rap(aport)s along. Or, feel free to luxuriate in this clip of him playing “Still D.R.E.,” also on the grand piano, while some dude wearing a Snoop Dogg mask dances on the lid. And if you need your faith restored in the youth, please do watch Scott Storch play classical music for some teens.
Most of the time I think that social media is a development that is slowly eroding society, but every once in a while someone comes along and uses one platform or another in ways that run counter to the conventions upon which they were built. No matter his numerous self-indulgences, Scott Storch is ultimately a behind-the-scenes guy: he makes the beat, the rapper raps over it, and in the end, the rapper gets the glory. And yet with his stilted dance moves, enthusiasm over his own technical brilliance, and shiny, shiny sunglasses, Scott Storch manages to place himself front and center, even if it's just in his own feed.