"This fucking guy," says Linder, gesturing toward Storch with a pool cue, "tries to do the right thing and nobody bothers to contact him to get the right story."

It's a touching dude moment, one buddy defending the honor of another. Back in the day, Storch was surrounded by five assistants who bowed to his every demand but few real friends. There's billionaire oil heir Brandon Davis. After a long night of partying at Storch's Palm Island spread, Storch says, Davis, whom he considered a close friend, stole one of Storch's $100,000 diamond-studded watches. Storch called Davis and told him he had evidence of the theft on his security cameras; then, says Storch, Davis broke into tears and begged Storch not to turn him in. He didn't. But the truth is that a coke-addled Storch was not easy to be around. "People tell me they couldn't talk to me when I was high," Storch says. "I was uninterested in anything. My attention span was like two seconds." Eventually, broke and alone, Storch reached out to his manager, Derek Jackson, who convinced him he needed help. In April, Storch checked into an intensive inpatient rehab program in Hollywood, Florida, and in May he filed for bankruptcy.

While Storch is pushing his comeback story on anyone who'll listen—he's shot a pilot for the de rigueur reality program—he hasn't exactly been welcomed back by the music industry. "I've been bending arms," Jackson says. "The stuff he was doing right out of rehab wasn't impressive." But Jackson says that Storch is finally starting to regain his touch, pointing to his recent work with Chris Brown in Orlando. "I had to beg Chris' manager," Jackson says, "but the shit is strong."

"People have too short a memory," Storch says, referring to his hit-making prowess. For now, he is taking spot producer gigs when he can get them: a track with Jennifer Hudson here, two cuts for Usher there. And he's hustling: He says he had a call with Alicia Keys—though his manager seemed not to know about it—and the night of the Gucci session at the Hit Factory, he passed a CD to Nelly Furtado's manager, who was in a nearby studio. It's a far cry from the days when superstars begged him to serve up his magic beats. "I've got to prove myself to the people that write checks," Storch says as he steps onto Linder's balcony and stares out at the Atlantic 35 stories below. It's gray and overcast, but he slips on his white sunglasses anyway. "People will see that everything is intact."